Have you received a debt validation notice about a debt you don’t recognize or one that you’ve already repaid? If so, you have the option of disputing the debt, but you need to act in a timely manner. If you feel confused or overwhelmed at any stage, you might benefit by consulting an attorney.
The Debt Validation Notice
Upon making initial contact you with, a collector is required to send you a debt validation notice in writing. This notice should include:
- The amount you owe
- The creditor’s name
- A notification that you may request for the debt’s verification within a 30-day period
- A notification that you may request the original creditor’s name and address within a 30-day period
- A notification that collector will deem the debt to be valid if you fail to dispute it within a 30-day period
The process of debt validation involves getting a collection agency to prove that you are responsible for repaying a particular debt. This right is granted to consumers through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Why Request Validation?
Simply repaying any debt that a collector calls you about is not the best way forward, especially if you feel you don’t owe the money in question. Depending on your specific situation, you might benefit by requesting validation of your debt in different ways.
- Identify scamsters. Since debt collectors are known to try and collect bogus debts, requesting debt validation gives you the ability to weed out scamsters.
- Steer clear of mistaken identity. Instances of collectors contacting people who don’t owe debts but have similar names to ones who do are fairly common.
- Confirm if you’ve already paid. If you think you’re being contacted about a debt you’ve already repaid, ask the collector to provide documents showing that you still owe money.
- Verify you’re speaking with an authorized collector. While you might owe the debt in question, verify if you’re speaking with a collector who is authorized to collect on the debt. After all, you don’t want to end up repaying a debt only to have another collector call you about it in the future.
Requesting Debt Validation
You get 30 days from the time you receive the debt validation notice to dispute the debt or seek additional information about it, and you need to do so in writing. Through your debt validation letter, you may dispute all or part of the debt. You may also seek the name and address of the original creditor. Once you submit this letter, collection activities stop until you get the desired information or until a resolution is reached.
Send your debt validation letter via certified mail, as it comes with proof of when the letter was mailed and received.
What Happens If You Don’t Dispute a Debt?
If you fail to send a debt validation letter to dispute the debt or seek additional information within the stipulated 30-day period, the collection agency has the right to assume that the debt is valid. Collection efforts will continue. If you don’t settle the debt or arrive at a suitable repayment plan, the collector has the option of filing a lawsuit against you and taking you to court.
Receiving a debt validation notice might seem daunting. However, you get legal recourse when it comes to debts you don’t recognize as well as ones you feel you are no longer obligated to repay. Choosing to have your debt validated ensures that you don’t end up paying money that is rightfully yours. Bear in mind that you get a limited period of time to dispute a debt or seek more information. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, consider contacting an attorney who specializes in debt validation at the earliest.