Calls from debt collectors can make your life miserable when you’re already pretty miserable from being in so much debt. It’s even worse when you already paid the debt, or it wasn’t yours to begin with–what should you do next? That’s why sample letters can be a good starting point, or you can just send them as is.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently posted a set of sample letters that you can use to tell debt collectors to leave you alone or to make them prove that you really owe them money.
The “More Information” Letter
Use this letter if you don’t recognize a debt that you’re receiving calls or mailings about. Is it yours to begin with? Does the entity contacting you really own the debt? This letter asks them for more information so you can find out.
Dispute And Proof Letter
If you know for sure that that a debt doesn’t belong to you, or that you no longer own it, send this letter. It keeps companies from contacting you again until they can prove that they own the debt and that you really owe the debt.
The “Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You” Letter
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act allows consumers to restrict companies from contacting them for debt collection purposes at times and in ways that they find inconvenient. If you don’t want to be contacted at work, for example, or on your cell phone, or by phone at all, you can use this letter to cut back on contact with a company while you make arrangements to pay down your debt.
The “Talk To My Lawyer” Letter
This one is pretty self-explanatory: if you’ve hired a lawyer, the company should contact the lawyer instead of contacting you. Tell them that.
The “Drop Dead” Letter
This one is the nuclear option. It’s what you use when a debt collector won’t leave you alone. It won’t stop anyone from filing a lawsuit or pursuing other means to get the money out of you, but it will stop the letters and calls.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.