Are collection agencies harassing you with repeated calls? Are you sure they're legally entitled to collect the debt? Before you make a payment, try finding out if the agencies have the right to collect your debt. This is where debt validation can help you. Check out the topics given below if you want to know what debt validation is all about.
What is validation of debt?
Debt validation is where you try to find out whether the collection agency (CA) has the legal right to collect on the debt by asking them to provide you with proof.
The FDCPA gives you the right to seek validation from a collection agency and not the original creditor. The FDCPA does not govern collection practices of the original creditor.
Is there a time limit for validation of debt?
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors (collection agencies or CAs) are required to send you a debt validation notice within 5 days of contacting you to collect a debt. The notice informs you that you have the right to validate/dispute the debt within 30 days of receiving the letter. If you don't dispute the debt (or request validation of the debt) within the 30-day period, the collector has the legal right to assume that you agree the debt is valid.
What details do you get with debt validation?
When you try to validate a debt, the collection agency must provide you with certain details. They are:
- Proof that the CA holds your debt: You must get written proof that your account has been sold or assigned to the CA.
- Your payment history: You'll also get a copy of your current account payment history. This will help you verify the total amount you owe, including any fees being added to your debt. You should also find out how the CA has calculated these extra fees.
- Copy of your original contract: This is intended to prove to you that you agreed to the debt. If they do not provide you with a copy of the original agreement, the CA may also provide you with the account statements from the original creditor.
What are the steps in validation of debt?
Check out these 7 steps to validate your debt and deal with collectors and credit reporting agencies (CRAs).
- Request a validation:Send a request letter to the CA asking them to validate your debt. Check out this sample debt validation letter to learn how to format the letter. The letter should be sent via certified mail with a return receipt request.
- Check if the CA is licensed:You need to wait for a reply from the CA. The agency may send you a letter with the details you've asked for. While you wait for a response, you should check to see if your state requires CAs to be licensed, and if so, whether the CA you are dealing with is licensed. The states that do not require CA licensing are Georgia, California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
- What if the CA violates collection laws: If the collector needs a license to collect debt in your state and they aren't licensed, send them a letter notifying they are violating your state's collection law. You should also inform them that if they continue to attempt collection, they may be facing a law suit and pay fines to your state.
- What to do if the CA doesn't validate debt: If the CA doesn't send you satisfactory proof, then you need to send them the documents below:
- A copy of your validation letter
- Copy of the return receipt
- A statement that the CA has violated the FDCPA
Under the FDCPA, if the collection agency doesn't validate your debt, then they can no longer collect the payment and they are required to stop contacting you.
Remove collection listing:Under the FCRA, collection agencies should not report a negative entry to the CRAs if the CA does not validate your debt. You need to send a letter to the collection agency asking them to remove the collection listing. You should also inform them that if they don't remove the collection listing, you might sue them for violation of the FDCPA. Wait 15-20 days for a reply from the collector. They'll either remove the negative listing or they won't respond at all.
Sue the collector if listing isn't removed: If the collectors don't remove the collection listing from your report, then you can file a lawsuit because they have violated the FDCPA. Before you file the lawsuit inform the CRAs that the CA is refusing to remove the collection listing.
Know how to deal with the CRAs: If the CRAs verify the collection listing, you'll have verification that the CA has the right to collect on the debt. If the CRA validates the debt, you should send them proof that the CA has refused to respond to your attempts to validate the debt, and therefore is violating the FDCPA. If the CRA refuses to send you the validation information they have received from the CA, you should include them in your suit against the CA for violation of the FDCPA.
Can you dispute the debt after the validation period?
You can send in a validation letter to your CA after the 30-day period, but the collectors aren't legally obligated to reply or stop collection efforts. So, you shouldn't dispute debt after the validation period has expired.
Debt assigned to CA - how does it affect validation?
If your debt is assigned to a CA, they may not be the legal owner of the debt. Sometimes if a debt has been assigned to a CA, it means they have purchased the account from the original creditor and sometimes it means that the creditor has hired the CA to collect the debt for them. When you validate the debt, you should find out how the CA and the original creditor are connected and who has the power to agree to a settlement or payment plan.
How do validation and debt verification differ?
If they validate the debt, the collector is required to send a copy of your agreement with the original creditor. If you are trying debt verification, the collector only needs to provide you with a written statement with the name and address of the original creditor and the total amount you owe. The time you have to verify a debt is similar to the time you have to validate the debt.
Under the FDCPA, CAs must stop collection activities as soon as they receive your request for validation or verification within the 30-day period. They can resume collection efforts only after they've sent you satisfactory proof that you owe the debt.
With debt validation, you can avoid harassment by collection agencies by verifying whether you legally owe the money. Once the CA verifies your debt, it is easier for you to plan how to pay back the money you owe. Always be sure you know and enforce your rights if the CA refuses to validate or verify the debt.