Content of the material
- The Right To Request Validation
- Writing a Debt Validation Letter
- Some Important Tips
- Step 2: Mail the Letter
- Debt Validation Letter vs. Debt Verification Letter
- What is a Sample debt validation letter?
- Debt Validation Letter Template
- Debt Validation Letters Wont Deliver a Quick Fix
- How long does a collector have to respond to a debt validation letter?
- Other ways to protect yourself from debt collectors
- Where Do I Send a Debt Validation Letter?
- What Account Number Should I Include?
- After Sending the Debt Validation Letter
- What if you receive a letter from a collection agency?
The Right To Request Validation
Federal law gives you the right to request a debt collector provide proof that you owe a debt. It’s the best way to ensure that you’re not paying a debt you don’t owe or a debt that the collector isn’t authorized to collect on.
The debt validation request is time sensitive. You must make your request in writing within 30 days of the debt collector's initial contact with you. If you wait more than 30 days, your validation request may not be covered under debt collection law.
Your rights are not protected if you make your debt validation request over the phone. Don't worry if you don't know what to say in a letter; there's one below that you can use as a template.
Once you send a request for proof, also called a debt validation letter, the collector must stop collection efforts until they've sent sufficient proof of the debt. It means they cannot call you, send you letters, or list the debt on your credit report.
Writing a Debt Validation Letter
You can’t just draft up a letter demanding that collection agency prove that you owe them. Instead, you want to use a professional tone and include the following information:
- Your name and address
- The date of initial contact made by the collection agency (if applicable)
- A request for more detailed information, including the name of the original creditor and supporting documentation to prove you actually owe the debt
- The most recent billing statement the collection agency received from the original creditor
- A copy of the original contract between yourself and the original creditor
Also, refrain from mentioning any intentions to repay the debt. And be sure not to offer any language that suggests you owe the debt.
Some Important Tips
- Don’t bother if the statute of limitations for collection is almost up. Remember, the impact on your credit score will diminish as the collection account ages. And even if there’s some time left for it to be reported, you won’t have to worry about the debt collector chasing you down after the statute of limitations has passed. But if you go forward with the debt validation letter, you could awaken the sleeping beast.
- Use the letter to your advantage to buy time. Has the debt collector contacted you for the first time regarding the account recently? If you respond in writing using a debt validation letter within 30 days, all collection efforts must come to a halt until they can provide proof that the debt is yours and they have the right to collect on it.
- Debt validation letters may also be effective for credit repair if the account has been passed from agency to agency. This usually means that documentation has slipped through the cracks and they won’t be able to prove you owe them.
But if you don’t receive a formal response, don’t hesitate to file a formal dispute to have the item removed from your credit report. It also doesn’t hurt to file a formal grievance with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is sure to get the collection agency’s attention and could result in hefty fines and penalties.
Step 2: Mail the Letter
Like writing the letter, mailing it is simple, but complicated. Mailing a letter is simple. But the devil is in the details. To mail the letter, you need to print the letter and send it in the mail via a trackable method. This means you need to have access to a functional printer, and you need to know how to use the post office.
We’ve found mailing via USPS Priority Mail is usually the best option. It provides a tracking number, arrives quickly, and costs a predictable $7.50. Many people online recommend using USPS Certified Mail with a return receipt. Certified Mail is a huge hassle. It takes forever to prepare, and it takes forever to arrive. Return receipts seem only like a good way for USPS to make a few extra dollars. There is no evidence they are any more valid in court than a tracking number showing the document has been delivered. Signature requests provide a way for a recipient to impede delivery. We just stick with Priority mail.
Generally, the letter should be mailed to the person most immediately attempting to collect the debt. This may be an attorney or collections firm working for the creditor or bank.
Debt Validation Letter vs. Debt Verification Letter
These letters don’t have official names. Some experts refer to the letter that the alleged debtor writes to a debt collector as the debt verification letter and the letter from the debt collector as the debt validation letter.
To others, a debt validation letter is the same as a debt verification letter and the names are used interchangeably. Some even call it a “debt dispute letter.” In this article, we will refer to a debt validation letter as the one you send to a debt collector to request that they validate your debt. But, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called so long as you use it as intended.
What is a Sample debt validation letter?
Each time a debt collector charges you with specific money towards debt payback, it is his/her responsibility to inform you about the purpose of the collection and further details about the transaction. As per the fair collection practices act (FDCPA), a debt notice in written format should be sent to the debt payer by the collector.
Due to the large number of debt payers associated with a financial institution, some collectors might delay or even skip sending the written notice. The ignorant payers continue to pay using these printable checks or allow the auto-debit option thereby losing money and rights on knowing the purpose of the transaction. When you do not receive a letter upon the first contact, you can write to the collector.
There are typically two situations when you can use a debt verification letter as a tool to probe the transaction.
- When you are keen to close the debt soon, you may use the letter to verify if the right collector is collecting money for the suitable debt.
- When the collector remains aggressive or hesitant about sharing information, you can use this tool to probe into further details and make a decision on payment.
There are a few key sections of a sample letter that you should make note of when you draft one.
- The amount owed by the payer.
- Creditor details such as organization name, address, and authority.
- A statement highlighting the validity of the collector if you do not dispute in 30 days from the date of the first contact.
- A statement highlighting the liability of the collector to provide further information within 30 days if questioned by the payer.
If you wish to collect specific information, you can ask for the authority of the agency, age of the debt, and also the reason for you to owe the debt. Sometimes, you may be obliged to pay the debt but you never know which one or who will collect it.
Note – Wait for 30 days after you draft the debt validation letter for the response from the collector.
Debt Validation Letter Template
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Use this letter to request information about your credit history and any particular debts you may have.+ show tags – hide tags Debt Management Debt Letter Template Welfare Benefits Letters
Debt Validation Letters Wont Deliver a Quick Fix
A lot of personal finance advice implies you can resolve almost any collection account by sending a debt validation letter within the 30-day period.
The idea is that by forcing the debt collector to validate your debt, you have a chance of getting off on a technicality. If you find an inaccurate account number or a discrepancy in the date of payment, couldn’t you invalidate the debt and nullify the collection notice?
In reality, this approach doesn’t yield such simple results — unless the debt really is not yours! If that’s the case, you should be able to resolve the debt without paying a dime. You’re why the Federal Trade Commission enforces the FDCPA to begin with.
If you do owe the money, you’ll probably need to negotiate a settlement to resolve the matter and remove the collection account from your credit report.
How long does a collector have to respond to a debt validation letter?
The law does not specify a time window for a debt collector to respond to a debt validation letter. However, the collector must cease collection activities until it responds to your letter and provides proof that you owe the debt.
Other ways to protect yourself from debt collectors
If you dispute a debt within 30 days and the debt collector carries on trying to collect money from you without sending you debt verification, you have grounds to file a complaint with the following organizations:
- Federal Trade Commission
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Your state’s Attorney General’s office
If a debt collector responds to your verification letter, read their response carefully. The FDCPA limits what debt collectors can and can’t say to you, so be aware of your rights and make sure they’re playing by the rules.
If a debt collector tells you that they intend to sue you, take it seriously. It’s illegal for a debt collector to threaten any action they can’t take or that they don’t intend to take. Contact an attorney, and do your best to pay the debt if you possibly can.
Where Do I Send a Debt Validation Letter?
Most debt collectors have online portals, web forms, and email addresses to help you communicate and send payments online.
I seldom recommend using these convenient tools. Instead, you must write actual physical letters and mail them to the address of the debt collection agency.
You should also send your letter via certified mail so you’ll get a return receipt — proof that the agency received your letter.
You could send a copy of your validation letter to the original creditor, but this isn’t necessary if the original creditor has already transferred the debt to the collection agency.
What Account Number Should I Include?
When you’re working with a collection account, you should include two account numbers in your written validation request:
- The original account number such as your credit card number or personal loan ID.
- The new account number assigned by the collection agency. You should be able to find this number in letters you’ve already received from the debt collector.
After Sending the Debt Validation Letter
The debt collector has 30 days to respond to your debt validation request. If they don’t, they are not allowed to make any more collection attempts on the debt. If they do, they’re in violation of the FDCPA, and you may report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and your state attorney general’s office.
You may later find out that your debt has been sold yet again to a new collection agency. In this event, you’ll need to submit a new debt validation letter as soon as you hear from them.
If they don’t send you the proper debt validation, you have a few different ways to respond. You can ignore the debt completely, but the collection attempts won’t stop, and it’ll be difficult to increase your credit over the coming years — not to mention qualify for new credit.
You also have the option to completely pay off the debt, if possible. You can also settle the debt with the collection agency. This could entail paying less than what you owe or making monthly payments for a certain period.
Before you make any decisions, check out your state’s laws on statute of limitations to ensure the debt is still open. If the statute of limitations has passed, you can no longer be sued for the amount owed.
What if you receive a letter from a collection agency?
If you receive a letter from a collection agency, you should respond with a Debt Validaiton Letter, requesting they show proof the debt is valid. You need to do this within 30 days.