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As I have indicated in a former question, I have set a goal to become financially stable by eliminating my debt and rebuilding my credit. I have worked out a timeline and can easily pay things back as well as regularly saving things. My question is in regards to communicating with debt collectors. I was recently contacted by a collector and they offered to settle the account. When I requested some kind of written agreement, I was told they were sending it to me by e-mail. I am located in Pennsylvania, US.

Should I have requested a written letter through the mail or is e-mail "just as good" in the event I have to prove the settlement's validity?

Many thanks in advance, I know I'm in good hands here.

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    Generally speaking, anything resembling a legal question is unanswerable without stating a jurisdiction. Where are you located? – user Jun 14 '16 at 13:56
  • Apologies, I thought I included that. I've edited it to reflect my location. – jaichele Jun 14 '16 at 13:59
  • I'm sure you are aware that a debt settlement is a black-mark on your credit report. It is, however, better than an unpaid and overdue debt and is often a very good option when rebuilding your credit. – ChrisInEdmonton Jun 14 '16 at 14:18
  • Is the "agreement" an attachment in an email (like a pdf file) ? Do you have to print it and sign something and send it back to them somehow (fax, mail, scan/email)? – TTT Jun 14 '16 at 15:23
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    It's a PDF with the company letterhead essentially outlining the discussion we had. The original account and payment arrangement are on there, as well. – jaichele Jun 14 '16 at 15:29
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I would ask for a written confirmation letter sent by regular mail.

An email can easily be modified. It's legal value in court is not determinant.

Having a written contract is especially important for you because of your financial situation, consolidation of your debts.

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I worked with a person that had to settle several debts. All of them were done by email confirmation and all but one had no problem. The one that had the problem had nothing to do with email.

The problem account was sold to two different collectors each claiming that they were the exclusive owners of the debt. She settled with one, and still fights with the other. The dispute has nothinging to do with how the settlement was document only if it was with a valid collector. That one remaining is being horribly obtuse about the whole thing.

In summary email will work the majority of the time. On those occasions that it does not work expect the collectors to be obtuse about it anyway so perhaps a letter would not work either.

Good luck on your journey.

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I believe an emailed document is fine, and it is common practice. It's not much different from receiving a document via fax, except that a document printed from email will usually be higher quality than a fax. It's also not much different if the sender prints it and sends it to you via regular mail, except that will take longer. From a security point of view, if you're worried that the company is a scam and the document may not be valid, receiving it via email may actually be easier to trace than if it was dropped in a mailbox and sent via regular mail. The only advantage I can think to requesting regular mail is that it would be harder for a scammer outside of your country to send you the document without you seeing where it came from, though it could still be done if they have a partner inside the country. If you trust that the company is not a scam, then the method they use to deliver the document to you should not raise any legal concerns.

The only issue I would potentially have about email is that by default it is not inherently secure, meaning that typically you cannot be sure that no one else has seen your emails. (It's very unlikely that someone else is reading them, but it's theoretically possible.) Due to this, best practice would be to avoid sending confidential information (SSN, credit card, bank account numbers, etc) in an email or attached document unless some sort of encryption or secure file share is used. This is why banks force you to login to their website to download your bank statement, rather than just emailing you the statement directly.

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