It is often not clear what debt a collector is contacting the consumer about. In that case, consumers should never pay the collector, at least not until they obtain more information. Federal law requires debt collectors to provide “validation information” about the alleged debt. It is best to send a request for verification within 30 days of receipt of the validation information. This is a sample request for validation. Other practice tools include other letters a consumer can send to a debt collector, including those instructing the collector to cease communications, a letter indicating all the consumer’s assets and income are exempt, and a letter disputing the debt.