Debt validation letters

How to dispute a collector's claim and stop collection activity.

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If you’ve recently received a call or letter from a debt collector stating you owe money, don’t just pass it off and forget about it. Instead, request validation or verification of the debt to make sure it’s legitimate and that you’re the person the collection agency is actually looking for.

Before you start: Know the difference between debt validation and debt verification

Although some use the terms interchangeably, there’s a big difference between a debt validation letter and a debt verification letter.

Debt validation letters
  • Best for: Getting more info about a debt that might be yours
  • Requests documented proof of original debt
  • Sent only to the debt collection agency
  • Stops collection activity
Debt verification letters
  • Best for: Disputing an incorrect mark on your credit report
  • Requests verification of debtor’s contact details
  • Sent only to the original creditor
  • Does not stop collection activity

What is a debt validation letter?

A debt validation letter is a document that proves a debt is valid, states how much you owe and confirms it’s within the statute of limitations for collection. A collection agency is required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to send a debt validation notice within five days of contacting you by phone or may include it in an initial written notice. From here, you have 30 days to contact the collector and request verification or dispute the debt.

Understanding a debt validation notice

A debt validation notice must contain the following information, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • Name of the creditor
  • Amount owed
  • Statement that the debt is assumed valid unless you dispute it by mail within 30 days
  • Statement that the creditor will respond to a dispute within 30 days with a debt verification letter
  • Statement that guarantees you the right to collect information about the original creditor — including its name and address

Can I send a request for debt validation?

Yes, if you receive a phone call or letter from a collection agency and need more information about the debt, you can send a request for validation.

Below is a sample letter for a debt validation request. However, this is intended for demonstration purposes only. Consult an attorney for official legal counsel before sending a debt validation request to a collection agency.

Sample letter for a debt validation request

Date

Your name
Your address

Debt collector’s name
Debt collector’s address

Re: Your account number

This letter is being sent in response to a [written notice or phone call] on November 2019. This is not a refusal to pay, but a request for debt validation under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). I am requesting that you provide proof that the debt is valid under a contractual obligation and that I am the correct debtor. This is not a request for “verification” or proof of my mailing address, but a request made pursuant to the FDCPA 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809 (b).

Please provide me with the following information:

  • An agreement with the creditor that authorizes you to collect on this alleged debt
  • An agreement with my signature that states I have agreed to assume this alleged debt
  • Valid copies of the alleged debt agreement that states the original principal of the alleged debt as well as fees and interest charges
  • Complete accounting history of the alleged debt
  • Any judgments obtained by a creditor regarding this account
  • Name and address of the alleged creditor
  • Name and address of the alleged debtor
  • Name, address and official license for the collection agency attempting to collect this alleged debt
  • Date the alleged debt became payable, date of the original delinquency and verification that the alleged debt was assigned or sold to the collector

If your office is able to provide the proper documentation as requested, I will require 30 days to investigate the information. During this time, cease and desist all collection activity. If during this validation period any actions are taken that could be considered detrimental to any of my credit reports, I will consult legal counsel in preparation for a lawsuit.

If your office fails to respond to this validation request within 30 days from the date of receipt, all references to this account must be deleted and completely removed from my credit file. A copy of this deletion request needs to be sent to me immediately. Any noncompliance with my request will be considered a waiver of all claims to enforce the debt against me and your implied agreement to compensate me for any court costs and/or attorney fees if I am forced to bring this matter before a judge.

Thank you for your cooperation,

Your signature
Your name in print

How to dispute a debt collection

If you’ve been accused of having a debt you do not owe — or suspect a collection letter may be a scam — then it’s critical you send a debt validation letter to dispute the debt. A lender must stop collection activity until it confirms the debt is legitimate.

If the collector is unable to prove your debt or continues to contact you to collect on it, it’s violating federal law. File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and stop communicating with the collector until you can obtain legal advice.

Must read: Don’t procrastinate on your debt validation request

Debt validation letters are time sensitive for you and the collector. Your creditor must send a debt validation notice to you within five days of its initial contact, and if you choose to dispute it, you must send a written response within 30 days. It’s possible to send a response later, but a collector isn’t legally required to respond or stop collection activity.

What is a debt verification letter?

A debt verification letter isn’t as robust as a debt validation letter. When you send it, the original creditor isn’t required to provide any proof or documentation that the debt is legit — just that you’re the intended recipient and the amount you owe is correct.

This type of letter is best used if you believe there is an incorrect negative listing on your credit report and you believe the creditor is looking for a different person. Because this won’t stop collection activity, you may want to opt for a validation letter instead if you intend on disputing the debt.

How to write a debt verification letter

A debt verification letter is less effective than a debt validation letter, but it still serves a purpose. You can send a verification letter to the original creditor that requests confirmation of the debtor’s contact details. This can help you see if you’re the person that actually owes the debt or not.

Sample debt verification letter

Date

Your name
Your address

Creditor’s name
Creditor’s address

Re: Your account number

This letter reflects my intention to dispute the account referenced above. I have already disputed this account information with the following credit bureaus: [list of credit bureaus you filed a dispute with].

I request that you verify the alleged debt associated with this account.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), I have the right to take legal action against you if you fail to properly verify the account details requested and remove the account from my credit report. You may also be required to compensate me for damage to my reputation as well any attorney fees and court costs accrued during a dispute.

Thank you for your cooperation,

Your signature
Your name in print

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Before you sign up with a debt relief company

Debt relief companies typically charge a percentage of a customer’s debt or a monthly program fee for their services. And they aren’t always transparent about these costs or drawbacks that can negatively affect your credit score. You might pay other fees for third-party settlement services or setting up new accounts, which can leave you in a worse situation than when you signed up.

Consider alternatives before signing up with a debt relief company:

  • Payment extensions. Companies you owe may be willing to extend your payment due date or put you on a longer payment plan if you ask.
  • Nonprofit credit counseling. Look for free debt-management help from nonprofit organizations like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
  • Debt settlement. If you can manage to pay a portion of the bill, offer the collection agency a one-time payment as a settlement. Collection agencies are often willing to accept a lower payment on your debt to close the account.

Bottom line

Sending a debt validation letter to a collection agency can help you confirm the debt is legitimate and that you’re not falling victim to a scam. And if you notice an incorrect mark on your credit report, a debt verification letter is a good way to ensure you’re actually the person that owes the debt in question.

However, these letters are only one step in the debt collection process. If you’ve been fielding calls and notices from collection agencies, there are ways to deal with these collectors to stop harassment.

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