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Ask your advocate.

I received a collections notice for a bill that I am not responsible for. In addition, the bill was addressed to me in my middle name--a name I never use. What can I do to resolve this situation and make sure my credit is not affected?

--A. Lawton

New York City

First, order your credit report. Make sure the name on the report is the same one you always use and not some other version. Then, send a dispute letter to all three credit bureaus as well as the collections agency, stating the problem and why you're not responsible for the debt. You can obtain a sample dispute letter at the Federal Trade Commission Website (

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector is not allowed to continue contacting you about the debt if you send a dispute letter within 30 days of receiving the collections notice. If you believe a creditor is in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, contact your state attorney general's office and the Federal Trade Commission.

It is also possible that someone could be using your information fraudulently. Protect yourself by contacting one of the three credit reporting agencies and requesting that an initial fraud alert be placed in your credit report until the matter is resolved. This way, creditors must verify your identity before issuing any new credit accounts in your name.

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Author:McRae, Sheiresa
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
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