It happens all the time. Debt collectors try to collect on debts that consumers have no knowledge of or never owed in the first place. So, what do you do when a bill collector demands payment in full on a debt that you never knew existed? You need to request a validation of debt.
A validation of debt is a request for proof that the collection agency that is contacting you owns the debt/or has been assigned the right to collect the debt on behalf of an original creditor. A validation of debt also includes a complete payment history, starting with the original creditor, and a copy of the original signed loan agreement or credit card application. This may be a debt you really owe or possibly a debt that was sent to collections by mistake. Either way, debt collectors can be very unapproachable. It is important to remember that you also have rights. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Paragraph 809, - Validation of Debts:
"(a) Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing:
(1) the amount of the debt;
(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
(3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
(4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and
(5) a statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
(b) If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
(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.
The information presented in this article only covers some of the more important aspects of debt validation. It is important to do your research and fully understand your rights and obligations prior to attempting any type of communication with a debt collector.
IAPDA Certified Debt Arbitrator
President and CEO of Debt Regret