YOUR Money

Should I pay off debt that I did not know I owe?


Borrowing money is often necessary, especially for large purchases like houses or cars. It is important to pay off your debts in a responsible and timely fashion. Sometimes, however, debt collectors or scam artists may try to get you to pay debts you do not owe.

The most effective way to resolve debt collection conflict is to directly contact the collection agency in writing to dispute the debt.  It is a good idea to send the letter via certified mail requiring a return receipt. Enclose copies of any documents that support your claim that you do not owe the debt or that you are not the person who they are trying to contact. Under federal law a creditor must stop trying to contact you on the telephone once they receive the dispute letter. For your records, you should keep a copy of the letter you send together with the receipt that you get back in the mail. If the letter you send does not resolve your complaint with the collection agency, then we recommend that you file your complaint directly with the FTC. You can contact the FTC online at or toll free via telephone at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Third-party debt collectors are required to comply with the FDCPA. The FTC is the federal agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing the FDCPA. If you feel the collection agency is in violation of the FDCPA, please file a formal complaint with the FTC at

Visit to learn about your rights and options under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing the FDCPA.

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