If you are currently dealing with debt collectors or trying to clear your credit report, you have probably found a lot of information regarding Debt Validation Letters.
This is a letter that a consumer sends to the debt collector requesting validation of a debt that is on their credit report or that the collection agency is trying to collect.
Most experts advise doing this when you feel that the debt is not valid and you fear that you may be a victim of identity fraud or another system error. In these cases, you want proof that you have a legal responsibility to pay the cited debt.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the collection agency has a legal obligation to respond to the debt validation letter only IF it is sent before the 30-day validation period expires. Although you can send a debt validation letter after this 30-day period, the collection agency isn’t legally required to respond and can continue attempts to collect the debt.
Debt Validation Responses
You may or may not receive an answer to this letter. Research shows that debt collection companies respond to around 50% of debt validation letters, probably for the most ‘collectable’ accounts, i.e. accounts they feel are worth the most or they feel are easier to win.
As soon as debt validation has been received by the collection agency, they must cease all collection efforts until they verify and present you with their response. If they fail to respond, this may result in success for you and you can go about requesting that your credit report is cleared.
However, for the 50% of consumers that receive a response, the battle is not yet over. If you find yourself in receipt of a debt validation letter, you need to evaluate the information they have provided alongside your own records. Of course, there are many reasons why you are disputing that this debt is not valid. For example:
- you have paid the debt;
- you believe that your identity has been stolen;
- the amount of the debt is incorrect; or
- you have never defaulted on a credit card or loan agreement.
Therefore, the information you need in your validation letter depends on the reason you believe it to be invalid. For example, if you believe that you are a victim of identity fraud, you need proof of a signed agreement with your name and personal details on.
Automated Debt Validation
However, you need to be aware that debt collection companies sue in bulk, collect in bulk and validate in bulk. Very little attention is given to each individual account unless absolutely necessary and so you might find yourself with an automated validation letter.
These tend to include statements similar to the following:
Our records indicate that you requested a debt validation on 01/02/2013. According to our records, you owe $XXXXX. Please review the enclosed information and contract from the original creditor and contact our office immediately to discuss payment.
They then may include a blank, recent contract agreement from the original creditor.
This may fool or scare some consumers into believing that this is sufficient verification of the debt. However, what you requested was not a copy of a non-specific contract, but proof connecting you, by name, to that contract. In the case where you have not received what you deem as legitimate validation, you might consider drafting a further request detailing exactly the information you are demanding.
In the letter you may want to request specific information such as exact calculations of the debt amount including interest and fees; copies of contracts and agreements; information from the original creditor; proof that the statute of limitations has not expired; license information of the debt collector.
Unfortunately, the law doesn’t detail exactly what qualifies as ‘validation’ and does not require the company to provide any specific information. However, it is still worth requesting it as it shows that you are going to fight this case and not make it so easy for them. If the case were to go to court, it will also show the judge that legitimate proof of the debt has not been provided.
At this point, the collector may well decide that your case is not as collectable as previously thought and leave the dispute.
Moreover, if you have paid the debt in question and you have receipts, bank account statements or deposit slips to prove it, make copies of all of these and mail them to the collection agency with a covering letter stating that the debt has been paid in full and they have no legal right to pursue collection.
You can also file a credit report dispute with the credit bureau requesting that your credit report be adjusted. Include copies of your communications with the collection agency as well as any proof you have of the debt payment.
Remember that anything you send to the collection agency, from the very first validation notice, you must send by certified mail. This will prove that validation requests, payment proof and anything else has been received by the collection agency and as a result, they cannot claim that they never received communication from you. You would be surprised how often these letters ‘get lost’ in the mail.
Debt collection agencies will use any tactics in order to collect debt. Fear and intimidation are age old ploys that continue to work on many consumers. Don’t become one of them. Educate yourself on the laws from the FDCPA which are there to protect you against harassment and be aware of your rights. Remember that if you sent your Debt Validation Notice within the 30-day period, they must not try to collect or even threaten collection until they have provided a response.
Even though this can be a terrifying experience, you can get through it without being trampled on. The Defendant’s Package is there to help every day consumers battle collection agencies and original creditors. It has helped thousands of people so far and it can help you too.