It’s not uncommon to receive a phone call or notice in the mail from a collection agency looking for payments. When a debt collector contacts you about an unpaid debt, your first order of business should be to obtain a debt validation (DV) letter.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collection agencies are required to provide proof that the debt is legitimate, that the debt is legally yours and that the collector has the right to collect on behalf of the original creditor.
Why You Need a Debt Validation Letter
Debt validation letters are valuable assets during the debt collection process. Mistakes are common and can often lead to you paying off debt you don’t owe or that are past the legal statute of limitations.
Debt validation letters are designed for consumers’ protection. Before any money changes hands, collectors must prove that their debts are legitimate. Requesting verification of debt is a quick and legally recognized way to establish legitimacy before you proceed to negotiate with a debt collector.
Validation letters are also used to explain both how much money you owe and to who. In addition to the debt amount, they will also show any extra fees or interest rates the collector has added.
How to Write a Debt Verification Letter
If you’ve been contacted by a collection agency, the collectors are required to send you a written notice within five days of the first contact. If you have not received a debt validation letter, you have the right to request one by writing a debt verification letter, or a debt dispute letter.
Similar to the validation letter, a verification letter is a valuable tool in the debt collection process. If you’re unsure about whether or not a collection agency has the right to request payment, this letter can be used to dispute the validity of the debt. This letter can be used to:
- Determine the exact amounts you owe
- Gather documents that verify your debt
- Get information on who you owe
- Determine how old the debt is
- Place a pause on the collection proceedings
There are two main benefits to requesting the verification of the debt. First, the information collection agencies provide you with may be beneficial to resolving your debt. Secondly, you may be able to pause the agency’s overwhelming attempts to collect payment for a short period of time.
Both benefits allow you the chance to breathe and consider your options carefully – a luxury that could be vital to your repayment.
It’s important to note that a collector is only required to provide you with the name of the original creditor, the amount you owe, and the name of the person legally responsible for the debt.
The verification letter must be sent within 30 days of the first time you were contacted by the collector. Once the letter is received, the collection agency is legally bound to respond with the above information and must respond in writing before continuing their attempts to collect payment.
Although a verification letter can be sent past the 30 days mark, the collection agency is no longer required to pause their collection attempts.
If the agency refuses or fails to respond within the legal timeframe or with the correct information, you can file a complaint against them with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Download our free debt validation letter sample.
PLEASE NOTE: Credit.org does not provide legal advice. Please consult a qualified attorney before responding to lawsuits or other legal threats.