I've received a collection letter. What do I do?
    First, as with all communications from a debt collector, you should keep the letter in a safe place. Second, if you would like, we
    will take a look at the letter and give you our opinion. We do not charge you for reviewing the letter. Please scan the letter,
    including anything on the back of any pages and, if possible, the envelope. Please save as a PDF file (Adobe Acrobat) and email
    to us: webinquiry@philipstern.com. Also, if it is the first letter, it probably contains a notice about a 30-day period for you to
    dispute the debt and request information about the original creditor. If you choose to exercise any of those rights, please see
    How do I dispute a debt? below.

I received a voice message and think it may be from a debt collector. What do I do?
    Do not delete the message. When a debt collector leaves a message on an answering machine or voice mail, the majority of
    court decisions say that the message must disclose certain information including information so that you know who you are
    calling back and what the message is about. We would be happy to review the message.

How do I dispute a debt?
    Sending a letter to a debt collector within 30 days after receiving its first collection letter will stop the debt collector's collection
    activities until it mails you verification of the debt. The FDCPA does not state what has to be included in a verification and the
    court decisions have not been terribly precise. Nevertheless, those decisions generally hold that verification does not require
    very much investigation. The FDCPA only requires that you dispute the debt and does not require any explanation about why
    you disputed the debt. We have seen letters based on forms found on the internet where consumer states that the letter is
    "not a refusal to pay" and includes a laundry-list of requested information. Our opinion is that debt collectors ignore those
    requests because they only have meet the law's requirements and, worse of all, if there is a lawsuit and the letter is shown to
    the judge, it negatively reflects on the consumer's credibility. Our recommendations for the dispute letter can be downloaded as
    a PDF or you can view it online.

I just was served with a lawsuit. What do I do?
    Get to an attorney as soon as you can. You must file an answer before the time expires. The time period is different in every
    state. Your case is much more difficult to defend if you are out of time or a default judgment has been entered. Look for an
    attorney experienced in defending these cases. If you are located in New Jersey, please feel free to contact us. You can try your
    local bar association or the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

I obtained my credit report and there are errors on it. What should I do?
    First, be sure to keep all of your credit reports. To protect your rights, you need to dispute the information in writing with the
    credit reporting agency even if the incorrect information was supplied by someone else. We do not write dispute letters for
    clients. We have general recommendations for dispute letters. We recommend that all communications with credit reporting
    agencies be in writing using certified mail - we do not recommend ordering credit reports or lodging disputes online. If you are
    unable to get the error corrected, please feel free to contact us or a member of the National Association of Consumer
    Advocates.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A Word of Caution
Please do not mistake the general guidelines discussed on this page as legal advice. A thorough evaluation of the facts
and circumstances of your situation is necessary before any lawyer can provide you with a competent opinion.
(973) 379-7500
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Stern Thomasson LLC
STERN•THOMASSON LLP
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