Debt validation is a great tool all consumers have in their possession to use against unfair debt collection. Debt validation forces a debt collector prove you owe the debt they are trying to collect.
How to Request Debt Validation
Send the collection agency a certified, return receipt letter requesting debt validation. Unfortunately the FDCPA does not give a time limit in which debt collectors must respond to a validation request. It is not uncommon for consumers to receive a response several months later, if they receive a response at all.
Many times debt collectors are unable to obtain validation and will cease collection efforts and simply go away. Debt collectors do not like when you request debt validation because all they have purchased is basic information about you and the debt (without any supporting documents).
Now it may be likely you will hear from another debt collector who purchased the account from the previous debt collector but again, they only have basic information about you and the debt and you can request debt validation again if another debt collector purchases the debt.
When requesting debt validation it is wise to dispute the debt also. You are not required to give a reason why you dispute the debt.
Do not give any additional information about the debt and never acknowledge you owe the debt. It is their job to prove you owe the debt, not yours.
When to Request Debt Validation
- You can request debt validation at any time even though debt collectors may say different. If you have been sent a notice from a debt collector which included the mini Miranda: “This is an attempt to collect a debt and if we do not hear from you within 30 days of this notice, we will assume the debt to be valid” but did not respond within the thirty days, you can still request debt validation.
- If you discover a debt collector has placed a negative item in your credit files, you can request debt validation.
- What if a debt collector begins calling you out of the blue? Get their mailing address. Do not discuss the debt or payment over the telephone. Write them a certified, return receipt letter requesting debt validation and communication via U.S. Mail only. It is likely you will not hear from them again because debt collectors who do not correspond in writing and only call you almost never have any documentation to prove you owe the debt.
What if you do not Request Debt Validation
In some circumstances, consumers are caught by surprise by a debt collector, only discovering a collection account after they have been sued. And in other cases a consumer may choose to ignore a debt collector (don’t be one of those consumers). Whatever the circumstance, all is not lost. According to theFDCPA, Section 809(c): “The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt under this section may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.”
However, a debt collector does not have to honor your request for debt validation if; after they send, via U.S. Mail, the initial notice stating the consumer has 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt but you failed to request debt validation during that 30-day time period.
A Deceitful Response from the Collection Agency
Watch out for the debt collector’s response as they may send you a letter requesting you “help” them resolve the matter by you sending any documentation you have to provethe account belongs to you. STOP! Do not comply as it is their responsibility to prove the debt belongs to you. You do not have to provide any documentation.
If the Collection Agency Cannot Validate the Debt
If the collection agency cannot validate the debt they must delete the debt from your credit files and cease further collection efforts. Send them a certified letter telling them to cease and desist collection efforts and demand they remove unvalidated items from all of your credit reports.
Should the collection agency continue to report the debt on your credit reports it is time to use more leverage such as making complaints to your state’s Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. Send copies of the complaints to the collection agency. Some collection agencies will fold at this point and remove the negative item from your credit reports.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) clearly states in an option letter that a collection agency cannot report an unvalidated debt to the credit bureaus and states you can sue for violations: www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/letters/cass.htm
Always check your state’s statute of limitations on debt. Debt that is within the statute of limitations means that a collection agency can sue you for the debt. If the statute of limitations has expired you do not have to worry about being sued by the collection agency. Should a collection agency sue for a debt when the statute of limitations has expired, make sure you answer the lawsuit and use as one of your defenses the fact that the debt is time barred and the statute of limitation has expired.
Exercise your Rights to Sue
As a last resort, you have a right to sue the collection agency for violations of the FDCPA. It is important that you research the entire FDCPA as you may discover specific violations to your matter. If the credit reporting agencies do not delete the collection entry, you can sue for damages for violations of the FCRA. The credit bureaus cannot report information that is inaccurate and unverifiable.
You have the option to sue in small claims, state or federal court for each violation plus damages. You can pursue a lawsuit on your own or retain a consumer law attorney. Naca.net has a listing of consumer law attorneys across the United States.
Written Communication Only
When requesting debt validation you can also request the debt collector communicate by U.S. mail only because telephone calls to your employer and home are inconvenient.
You will discover many debt collectors will never send written communication, they only want to deal with you over the telephone in an attempt to intimidate you into paying.
Remember, you do not have to talk on the phone with a debt collector and it is highly recommended that you do not. All communication should be in writing as you want to create a paper trail in case you pursue legal action. You can send a simple validation request.
While repairing your credit can certainly be done on your own, as you can see, it can be time consuming. Let a Law Firm Remove your Negative Items from your Credit Report!