Like many Mississippi residents, you have some debt. It can be challenging enough taking care of your usual bills every month. The last thing you need is another debt added to the pile. However, one day you get a collection notice in the mail for a debt you don’t recognize. You are sure you didn’t make this purchase, so why are you receiving a bill for it? Even worse, why are you being taken to collections for it?

This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon scenario. Countless people receive bills for unfamiliar purchases, which can spark uncertainty and panic when they start receiving collection notices or harassing phone calls. Can you get this debt taken off your record? Will it affect your credit score? How can you get the harassment to stop?

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission explains that an unfamiliar debt may be a case of mistaken identity, or you could be the unwitting target of a scammer who is hoping you won’t question the charges and will pay up. Regardless of the reason, you can take the following steps to protect your credit and dispute a debt you don’t believe is yours:

  • Send the collector a written letter explaining why you believe the debt is not yours and state that you want the calls and letters to stop.
  • If you’re getting phone calls, ask for the caller’s name, company, address and contact information. Don’t discuss the debt over the phone until the company sends you details in writing.
  • Don’t volunteer any personal information or correct wrong information with the correct details, even if you don’t believe you owe the debt.
  • Check your credit report and dispute any discrepancies in writing.

You might feel tempted to just throw away collection notices for a debt you’re sure doesn’t belong to you. However, if you fail to address the issue, the harassment is unlikely to stop, and even a false debt may impact your credit score.