Loans > How to Request Debt Validation from Debt Collectors

How to Request Debt Validation from Debt Collectors

 In this article we show you what to do when contacted by a debt collector and give some tips on how to identify the frauds.

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Updated January 10, 2022

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As more people rely on loans and credit cards to help them get through COVID-19, debt among Americans is skyrocketing. In fact, recent reports have noted that current consumer debt in America is at a mind-boggling $13.86 trillion. 😮

This increase in consumer debt correlates with the increase in demand for debt collectors throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, an increase in demand will result in more companies posing as fraudulent debt-collectors.

Knowing how to recognize and respond to the frauds, and more importantly, knowing what not to say in your request for debt validation, will help you protect yourself among the chaos. 

While there are laws in place to protect you, there have been calls for greater transparency in the debt collection model. From this, the CFPB has stated that it plans to assess the industry in the near future, which can only be a positive for consumers, and will hopefully bring about some tighter consumer protections.

For now though, we’ll break down your consumer rights and show you how to request debt validation from debt collectors — to a T. We’ll also help you easily pinpoint the frauds.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Debt Validation Overview & Summary

  1. When debt collectors contact you, they must show proof of debt once requested under the credit collection laws.
  2. With consumer debt at a high, people should know how to help identify a credit repair scam.
  3. If a debt collector contacts you without providing the necessary documentation, you can dispute it by writing a letter requesting debt validation, and asking for the name and address of the original creditor, in writing.
  4. In a debt validation letter, there is certain information you need to ask for including the name and address of the original creditor, the amount owed, and the account number. 
  5. The debt collector must respond within five days of receiving the letter. If any legal requirements are not met, you could file a complaint with the CFPB.

Does a Debt Collector Have to Show Proof of a Debt?

By law, debt collectors must show proof of a debt if you request it. And there are some strong cases for exercising the right to request proof under the credit collection laws. Be sure to read up on it so you know what exact protections you have right now. 

As a result of recent calls for greater transparency in the debt collection model, the CFPB has noted that it will begin assessing how protected consumers feel through interviews. 

Hopefully this will be the start of a process of change in the debt collection industry. However, for now, with debt on the rise as a result of Covid-19, we do urge consumers to stay vigilant. We will go through how you can do this in more detail below.

Understanding the Debts You Owe

First and foremost, when disputing a debt, you need to get your facts right. Try to keep a tight tab on your credit report.

Proof of Debt

Knowing what’s in your credit history will help you identify any debt that doesn’t belong to you easier. You have the right to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from credit bureaus, or alternatively, you can work with a leading credit monitoring firm.

Double-Check That You Haven’t Paid the Debt Already

What if you already paid the debt that is being requested? Maybe you vaguely remember owing the creditor named on the collection notice, or perhaps you remember paying the debt at a previous time. Find out for sure and ask for confirmation. You have the right to.

How to Identify a Debt Collector Scam

Total consumer debt is at a high of $13.86 T. This includes mortgages, student loans, and credit cards.

As Covid-19 persists, consumers are becoming more reliant on loans, and credit cards to help them stay on top of finances, all of which are getting them into some serious debt.

More accurately, consumer debt is currently at $13.86 trillion in America. This has resulted in debt collectors thriving throughout the pandemic. And thriving industries attract fraudulent companies that will try to take advantage of vulnerable people.

Here are some tips to look out for to help you avoid the scam debt collectors.

⚠️ What to Look Out For

Information is withheld from you . The debt collector doesn’t give you sufficient information about the debt in question like the amount owed, the name of the creditor, and that if you dispute the debt the debt collector will have to obtain verification of the debt.

Pressuring you to pay by card or money transfer. These payment methods are favoured by scammers because they could be impossible to trace, and can make it difficult for you to get your money back.

Poses as a government official or threatens you with jail time. That said, if you do owe criminal fines or restitution, you could be arrested if you fail to pay.

Claims it will tell your employer, family, friends. Scammers have been known to threaten to tell your family, coworkers, friends, or employers about your debts. In general, debt collectors cannot tell other people about their debt without receiving your permission.

✅ Confirm the Debt is Yours

If you’re unsure of whether the debt is yours or not  –  or if the amount you’re being charged or any other aspects are correct – you should request proof.

There have been cases where debt collectors have sent bills or made bogus debt calls, so don’t take it for granted that a bill from a debt collector is fully accurate. The letter might look like it’s the real thing but we’re in the digital age now, and enough information about people and their finances is easily found online for anyone to create a debt collection notice.

✅ Ensure the Collector Has the Right to Collect the Debt

Let’s say you do owe the debt. Even so, how can you be sure that the creditor was hired by the company to collect the debt on its behalf?

In another instance, for example, say you went ahead and paid the collector, and later had to pay another collector because the original collector wasn’t hired by the company to collect the debt in the first place. A debt validation letter will help you know for you that you’re paying the legitimate collector.

⏱ Disputing Debt is a Time Sensitive Issue

Once the debt collector has made contact, they have only five days to provide a debt validation letter. If the debt does not belong to you, you have 30 days to take action through a debt validation letter. If you do not take action, the creditor could assume the debt is yours and go ahead with attempting to collect it.

How Do I Request a Debt Validation From a Collection Agency?

If someone contacts you about a debt without providing documentation you can dispute it by doing the following:

  • Dispute the debt in writing 
  • Ask for the name and address of the original creditor, in writing.

The second point is the best option if you’re unsure about the debt. You could also consider doing this if you think the debt is yours but would like some debt relief; allowing you to knock off some of your debt or negotiate new payment terms.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlines that any entities attempting to collect a debt must provide a certain amount of information. This includes the amount you owe and the name of the creditor. The creditor is also required to provide a notice of your rights, including information on your right to dispute the debt. 

How Do I Write a Letter Requesting Debt Validation?

To hold up in court, you must make your request in writing. Requesting proof over the phone will not protect you under the FDCPA. Within the verification letter, you do not need to dispute the entire debt.

Signing a Letter

Alternatively, you can choose to simply dispute part of the debt. Once your letter is received by the debt collector, they can’t make any further contact with you until they’ve provided you with the proof you’ve requested.

Within the debt verification letter, ask the debt collection agency or creditor to provide you with the following:

  1. Some documentation that shows you owe the debt, like the contract.
  2. How much you owe and the last outstanding action taken on the debt. This can be confirmed through documents like the last statement or bill.
  3. Proof of the collection agency’s authority to collect debt, like the necessary license in your state.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides sample letters to help you get started, we’ll also go through an example with you below. If you’re still not comfortable writing it yourself, you could work with a leading credit repair company to send and manage the communication and dispute for you.

Send Your Verification Letter via Certified Mail

Ideally, you should send your debt validation letter through certified mail with a return receipt. This gives you proof that you mailed the letter, what date it was mailed, and verification that the debt collector got your letter.

📬 Remember: Should you need to file a lawsuit against the collector in the future, certified mail will help you prove your case.

An Example of a Debt Verification Letter

Start the letter by referencing the date the collector contacted you initially and how they contacted you. For example, “I received a phone call from your agency on May 14th, 2020.” You should also make a statement that the intention of the letter is to ask for validation of the debt. Be careful not to make a reference to payment or admit that you owe the debt.


Re: Account Number

I have sent this letter as a response to the communication (state whether it was a letter/phone call) I received on [insert date]. I am requesting that you send verification of the debt in question.

For this, please send the information listed below:

  1. The amount owed, the name and address of the original credit, and the account number. 
  2. Verification of the basis that you are claiming I owe the amount mentioned. 
  3. Further details about how long the debt has been owed and amount of debt including a copy of the last billing statement issued by the original creditor, the date the original creditor claims the debt became delinquent, a detailed statement about any interest owed or payments made since the last billing statement and the legal authorization of this interest. 
  4. Please also clarify whether the debt in question is within the statute of limitations and it was determined as so.
  5. Details about the authority you hold to request this debt: The license you hold in my state, the name on the license, the license number, the issue and end date of the license, the address and telephone number of the state agency issuing the license.
  6. In addition, if you are based outside my state, please provide your licensing information from the state you are based, too.

Sincerely,

Your Name


The Debt Collector’s Response to Your Verification Request

Once the collection agency receives your dispute, it must forward on proof of the information requested in the letter above. This includes verifying that you do in fact owe the debt, how much you owe, and documentation from the original creditor (this will come from the debt collector, not the original creditor.

If the debt collector fails to send adequate proof of the debt owed, they cannot continue to pursue the debt, and any efforts to do so are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This includes the listing of the debt on your credit report – you can dispute any debt which hasn’t been adequately validated with the credit bureaus.

To help get negative items removed from your credit report you can send the return receipts along with a copy of the validation letter. Having inaccurate items on your credit report can lower your credit score and negatively impact your loan and debt terms.

💡 Keep in mind: In some cases, your account might be sold or assigned to another debt collection agency. Should this happen, the validation request sent to the previous debt collector will not apply.

Notify the Credit Bureaus

If the debt collector cannot verify the debt, in addition to not being able to pursue the debt, it must request that the negative report related to the collection is removed. If the company does not do this, you should contact the credit bureaus to notify them and ask for an investigation in the matter.

File a Complaint With the CFPB

If any of the legal requirements are not followed by the debt collector or it continues to pursue you when it can’t validate the debt, you could make a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

CFPB LOGO

Once you submit a complaint with the CFPB it will go through the following stages:

  1. The complaint is review
  2. The creditor is asked to respond, and this is then reviewed.
  3. Your complaint, along with other information relating to the complaint are published for the public.
  4. You are given the creditor’s response to which you will have to respond to within 60 days.

If the Debt is Verified by the Collector

If the collector validates the debt, you will need to make a decision about what your next step will be. 

Confirm whether the debt is within the statute of limitations – this is how long a collector can collect a debt from you – and then decide. If the debt is outside of the statute of limitations then it is less significant because the collector won’t be able to win a judgement against you.

You can pay the debt, which would eliminate the obligation for you. You also might be able to negotiate a settlement for less than the balance owed.

Research whether the debt falls within the credit reporting time. Debt collection cannot appear on your credit report for more than seven years. If your delinquency happened more than this period then you do not have to pay the debt and it should not appear on your credit report.

However, efforts to collect the debt can continue indefinitely. If you have bad credit, learning how to build credit can really pay off. 

In current Covid-19 time, building good credit is crucial, partly due to the credit bureaus implementation of the financial resilience index. Essentially, this means you will be rated on how well you’ve managed debt throughout the pandemic which will influence your FICO score. Reporting errors can ruin our credit scores and financial options, so make sure you understand how to read your credit report.

Can I Pay the Original Creditor Instead of the Collection Agency?

Ask the debt collector whether it owns the debt or not. If it doesn’t then you may be able to negotiate a better deal with the original creditor. In some cases, the creditor will sell debt to the collection agency. In this case, the debt collector will have full control over the debt so you will need to make the payment directly to it.

Debt Validation Letter Summary

Whether you have some old strikes on your credit report, or you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you shouldn’t ignore it. Going through the process may have once seemed ambiguous, but if you get to know your consumer rights, and follow our steps, you can deal with the process in a manageable way. 

If you don’t want to do it alone, you can also enlist the help of a credit repair service to walk you through the princess, and do the hard work for you. Credit repair services work to protect your right to an accurate and up-to-date report, helping you avoid potentially higher interest rates on credit cards, loans and mortgages.

Debt Validation FAQs

  • What Does a Debt Validation Letter Do?

    Debt collectors must send you a debt validation letter by law that outlines the origination of the debt, and the amount you owe, along with other information. If you have doubts about the debt, you should consider sending a debt verification letter to the sender which asks for proof of the debt.

  • Do Debt Validation Letters Really Work?

    When a debt validation letter is sent, it is a violation of The Collection Practices Act for the collector to refuse to validate the debt, or for it not to respond to the letter. If you’re met with this behavior, you may need to submit a complaint with the CFPB.

  • Is Debt Validation a Good Idea?

    Those who owe a debt but are reluctant to or simply can’t pay will need to face it; receiving a debt validation letter might be good to motivate you to get in touch with a consumer attorney to figure out your best course of action. It’s also a good idea to consider hiring an attorney if you believe the debt you are being pursued for is not yours. You could also consider debt consolidation.This merges several high-interest rate debts into one more manageable payment.

  • What Proof Do Debt Collectors Have to Provide?

    Although debt collectors have a poor reputation, businesses often hire debt collectors to help maintain a good client relationship and free up capital. Once a debt collector has been hired to collect debt on behalf of a company, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires the entity to include the following information in the debt validation notice:

    • The amount you owe.
    • The name of the creditor the payment is owed to
    • A statement outlining that the debt is valid unless it is disputed within 30 days of the first contract.
    • A statement informing you should you dispute the debt or request more information in writing, within 30 days, the collector will respond to verify the debt, in writing.
  • How Long Do Debt Collectors Have to Validate Debt?

    The debt collector only has five days from the first contact to provide debt validation, in writing. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you have the right to certain information from the entities pursuing the debt.

  • What Happens When Debt Collectors Are Ignored?

    It’s never a good idea to ignore a debt collector. If you do, it could file a lawsuit against you. Ignoring the lawsuit could lead to the entity going after the funds in your bank account or garnishing your wages. 

  • What Should You Not Say to a Debt Collector?

    Be careful not to admit to owing debt in your verification letter or even referencing any payment. This will put you in better standing to argue your case in the future.

  • Can a Debt From 10 Years Ago Be Collected?

    In most instances, the statute of limitations for a debt will have passed after 7 years. This means that debt collectors can still pursue it indefinitely, but they won’t typically be able to take any legal action against you.

    If you’re worried about your debt options being affected by your credit report, there are bad credit loans that offer guaranteed approval available to you. There’s no need to worry, some loan platforms will offer you good loans if you have bad credit.

  • How Can You Prove You Don’t Owe A Debt?

    It is up to the collection entity to prove that a debt belongs to you. You can do this by sending a debt validation letter asking it for specific information. The debt collector will need to respond to your request within five days of receiving it.

  • What Happens If You Dispute a Debt?

    Once a debt is disputed, the debt collector must cease all communication until it has proven the debt is yours. If it fails to prove the debt is yours it is not entitled to contact you again. 

  • Does Disputing a Debt Restart the Clock?

    When a debt is disputed the statute of limitations is reset and a new period begins. However, this also means that the collector could initiate a lawsuit against you for the full amount plus interest and fees.

  • How Do I Answer a Court Summons for Debt Collection?
    1. Read the summons and take note of exactly what date you will need to reply by.
    2. Read it carefully and write your response.
    3. Sign and date your letter
    4. Make sure to make copies of the letter
    5. Mail one to the debt collector 
    6. File your answer with the court by the date on the summons.

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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