Debt in Collections? Look for a Debt Validation Letter
If you have a debt in collections, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says that, within five days of initially contacting you, a debt collector must send you a written debt validation letter that contains the following information:
- The amount of the debt;
- The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed; and
- A statement that unless you dispute the validity of the debt within 30 days after receiving the notice, the debt collector will assume that the debt is valid.
The five-day debt validation letter is extremely important, in that it provides you with clear information about the source and amount of the debt in collections, as well as your right to dispute the debt. Unscrupulous debt collectors don’t send the debt validation letter. An unsuspecting consumer doesn’t know that, if they don’t respond within 30 days, the debt collection agency can get a legal judgment against them.
Sometimes, debt collectors do send the five-day debt validation letter, but the information about your right to dispute a debt in collections is buried in the fine print. The debt collector is banking on the chance that you’ll run out of time to dispute the collection claim within the 30-day window of opportunity. If the debt in collections is in dispute, it means a lot more work for the debt collector, in that he or she must pull papers and obtain verification.
When you’re behind in paying your bills or have a debt in collections, it’s tempting to avoid opening the mail. After all, who wants to be subjected to harassing letters and reminders? But before you toss all of the unopened mail into a pile, remember that a five-day debt validation letter means that the clock is ticking. Even though it may be unpleasant, make it a point to open the mail. It’s a better alternative than having a debt collection agency get a judgment against you.
Received a Debt Validation Letter?
If you have a debt in collections and you’ve received a five-day debt validation letter, the first thing you should do is carefully read through it. Does it clearly state that you have 30 days to dispute the debt? Does it note the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor? If not, you should contact Debt & Credit Lawyer. If the debt collection agency has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are entitled to actual damages, attorney fees, and up to $1,000. The legal team at Debt & Credit Lawyer will provide you with a free case evaluation, and will represent you free of charge if you’ve been the victim of abusive debt collection practices. Call 203-529-5100 to get help.
If the information about the amount of the debt in collections and the creditor is incorrect, you should send a debt dispute letter within the 30-day window of opportunity. Alternately, your fair debt attorney can send a letter on your behalf. Keep in mind that some debt collection agencies buy up what’s known as “junk debt,” and so the creditor listed may not be the original creditor. It’s important to make the debt collection agency take the time and effort to validate the debt.