Hearing a debt collector on the other end of the line when you pick up can be one of the worst things in the world. There is one thing that tops it though and that is when you don’t recognize the debt you’re being called about.
Many people think that they may have forgotten to pay something off and panic, however, the debt may not be valid if it isn’t appearing on your credit report. If that is the case you may need to draft and send a debt validation letter to the collection agency.
What is a Debt Validation Letter?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires debt collectors to provide you validation of debt within five days of contacting you. It is your right to receive this information. If you do not receive it you can send a debt validation letter to the collection agency. You must send a debt validation letter within 30 days of the initial contact with the collectors though so it is a time-sensitive action.
Who Needs a Debt Validation Letter?
If you’re wondering if you need to send a debt validation letter, ask yourself the following:
Is the debt yours? If the debt isn’t yours you may have had your identity stolen or the debt collectors could have incorrect contact information. Debts that aren’t yours should be reported to the credit bureau directly. A debt validation letter won’t be necessary.
How old is the debt? If the debt is yours, how old is it? It may be past the statue of limitations which will make it no longer appear on your credit report. Collection agencies are also prohibited from asking for payment on any account past its statue of limitations. You will need to write a debt validation letter if that is the case.
A Debt Validation Letter Sample Text
Those who feel they need a debt validation letter will be pleased to know it is a relatively simple task. Every debt validation letter needs to be direct and straight to the point. Below you will find a sample text.
City, State Zip
Debt Collector’s Name
City, State Zip
Re: Account Number
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you in response to (phone call/letter) received by you on (date). Though I am not refusing payment, I am requesting that you provide validation of this debt.
If you do not meet this request, I will file complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the [your state here] Attorney General’s office and both civil and criminal claims will be pursued.
If you’re interested in paying off debt, check out these great articles:
- What is a Debt Validation Letter?
- Do Medical Debts Expire?
- Three Radical Debt Reduction Strategies to Try
How Collectors Should Respond to a Debt Validation Letter
Once you’ve drafted and sent your debt validation letter you’ll wait to hear from the debt collector. All debt collectors must cease attempts to collect debts until your debts have been verified.
Collection agencies are also required to provide specific information to those who ask for validation of their debts. If you are waiting for a response to your debt validation letter, be sure you receive all of the following information:
- How much you owe
- The company/name of who you owe
- A statement giving you 30 days to respond to said debt collection attempt
- A statement saying that you can dispute the debt for 30 days
- Information (address, etc) of the original creditor
If you do not receive any more information from the debt collector and continue to receive calls you can pursue criminal and civil claims, as outlined in the sample text. Most of the time if a debt validation letter is sent and there is no response the collector could not verify your debt and dropped the account.
Whatever you do don’t ignore the problem. Ignoring debt collectors and debt in general can hurt your credit score and your overall finances in the long run.
Have you written a debt validation letter? What was the outcome?
Photo: US News
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