Imagine you have a delinquent loan from a credit card company and it has been forwarded to the collection agency and you get a letter or a call mentioning a certain amount that needs to be paid which is a higher amount than you owe to them, or you don’t owe them a single penny. You freak out as to what should be your next step or how should you counter that. Of course, you don’t want to pay a debt that isn’t yours. Right? That’s when the debt verification letter comes into place. Let’s understand the process behind this letter and how it can help you.
What is a debt verification letter? Why do you require this letter?
If you owe some loan to your creditor and that loan has been transferred to a third party which is called a collection agency who takes the responsibility of collection of that debt from you. As the 1st step in the collection process, they call and tell the customer about the debts and relevant information which also needs to be sent in writing by a debt collector who has the person responsible for collecting the debt within 5 days of contacting you. But this process has been complicated and confusing for the customers, where they are being contacted by debt debt collectors to pay loans they don’t owe to them.
As per an annual report of the federal trade commission, 49% percent had filed complaints related to attempts to collect debts that customers never owed. The issues included an attempt to collect debts that were not there’s, or debt that they do event recognize, an attempt to collect debt for the products or services that they never received in the first place. Further, a whopping 72% percent of customers have registered complaints that enough information is not given in the credit report which made it difficult to find out about the debt following which most of the people were threatened to pay the debt failing which their credit history would be damaged.
To help you with these unauthorized attempts, a debt verification letter is used. Simply put, this is a letter that a customer can send to the debt collector for debt verification, if they believe that they owe less or no debt for which they have received a debt letter. For a basic understanding, it is a letter that is sent by the debt collector mentioning the following:
- How much debt do you owe to a creditor?
- If you have the right to dispute the claim, if yes, then you have to do it within 30 days of receiving the debt validation letter.
- If you have disputed the debt, then the debt will be verified and checked through the mail in 30 days
Along with that, as per the fair debt collection practices act(FDCPA) latest updates the debt collection of debt notice needs to give disclosure and other information which includes details that indicate which debt is being collected, details about consumer protections, consumer rights under the fair debt collection practices act, and the disclosures required under certain laws.
And to dispute this you have to send this letter of debt verification within 30 days, failing which the debt will be deemed as valid. However, please note that failing to send a verification letter within the time limit, will not refrain you from disputing the debt further. Sending the letter will help you as the debt collector has to stop all debt collection practices until they reply to the verification letter.
What is a debt validation letter? What is the line of difference between a debt validation letter and a verification letter?
A validation letter is a letter that can be used in the following two ways:
- If you want to check and verify whether you have any debt in your name then you can send a debt validation request within 30 days of initial communication with a debt collector. Please note you can only send the debt validation letter to a third party. If the debt is owed by the creditor, then the debt validation letter will be of no use.
- Or a debt collector has sent you a validation letter to pay the debt. If you believe that the debt is not yours then you need to send the debt verification letter.
So, validation can be sent by both the parties,
It is important to note here that, in any case, the debt collector has to reply within 30 days, if they don’t then as per the fair debt collection practices act, the debt collector will be liable to such customer for any damages sustained by them or may be liable for other such damages which don’t exceed $1000.
Coming to the difference, the debt validation letter talks about the debt, the creditor, the rights of the customer whereas the verification letter is primarily used for disputing the debt mentioned in the debt validation letter.
Here’s a sample letter for debt verification for a debt collector
When you receive a debt validation letter, the next step that you as a customer should take is to send a debt verification letter. Writing the verification letter can be a tedious task while you are worried about the upcoming compilation and issues. So, here are the points that you need to mention in your verification letter along with the sample.
Debt verification letter very simple to write: you need to mention that you don’t recognize this claim under which law you’ve exercised your right right, i.e. the fair debt collection practices act and ask for the following information from the debt collector:
- Name of the original creditor and related information that shows you own the debt to them
- The total debt that customer needs to pay, how old is the debt along with statement if the debt is within the statute of limitation
- What is the authority of the agency to collect the debt
Debt collector name
I am writing regarding the debt validation notice that I’ve received from your collection agency on [Date] via [Letter/E-mail]. As per the said notice I owe [Amount] to [Creditor name]. However, I deny this claim and through this notice, I dispute whatever information was stated in the Validation notice.
Since I don’t acknowledge the debts mentioned, it is my responsibility to verify the information reported to the credit bureaus is accurate. Hence, if you have relevant evidence and data that the debt is payable by me, then I hereby request you to please send the following information to me.
Till then, kindly cease all communication with me and suspend all collection practices failing which i will file a lawsuit against you. I deny responsibility for this debt and request you to please inform the credit bureaus if necessary.
Note: Do not mention a lot of things in the validation letter, as it might cause problems for you or it might look like you owe the date. Keep it simple and short.
Also if you want to see how a sample debt validation letter looks like, you can access it here.
Is there any law for fair debt collection practices?
Debt collection provides an opportunity for creditors and the debt collection agency to legally collect payment from the customers for the unpaid debt. While the importance of debt collection cannot be emphasized enough, there are a lot of scams and issues that have been observed by the respective authorities. So, to keep a check on the actions of debt collectors and the rights and powers of the customers. Hence, the fair debt collection practices act, which came into force in March 1978 governs the debt collection practices.
Fair debt collection practices act restricts the act of debt collectors and protects customers in the process of collection of debt.
- Representing through attorney: If the debt collector finds that you have hired an attorney, then he can’t you anymore.
- Time and place at which the debt collector can contact you: Debt collector can contact you from 8 AM- 9 PM at your home or registered. They can’t reach out to you at an unusual place and time.
- Harassment: If they threaten, abuse or oppress any customers in collection of debt then as per section 806 it will be considered as a violation of the fair debt collection practices act.
Things you should know before paying a debt collector?
Getting a debt validation letter is not a big deal in today’s time, even if you miss out on a small billing, still you will be getting the validation letter, but its important to keep note of the following things to avoid unnecessary payments to the .
- Verify if the debt is yours and check if it’s already paid: Above mentioned statistics about the number of complaints
- Identity of the debt collector: There are a lot of scams happening that pressurize and threaten the customer over the phone to pay the loan. Make sure you don’t share any personal details or about the debt even if you have until they give information about the agency they claimed to be a part of. To be on the safer side, refuse to discuss the debt until you receive the validation letter. They might have information about the creditor if they get access to your credit reports. Your next step, in this case, should be to reach out to the federal trade commission at ftc.gov/complaint or call the FTC toll-free at 1-877-382-4357.
- If they have just made the first communication: Never freak out on the first communication from the debt collector. Instead, wait for the written communication which needs to be sent within 5 days. Make sure that you start researching at your end, gather the facts that can be used against them, like if you don’t receive the written communication or don’t have enough details in the credit reports or in the validation notice.
- If the debt has been bought by a few collection agencies before: If you have a loan from a particular creditor and you fail to pay it for a longer period and in the meantime, a collection agency buys that loan from the creditor, and this cycle continues for a file and now the debt has been given to another collection agency. In these cases, there’s a high probability that they don’t have the accurate documents needed to validate the debt.
- Debt is time-barred: While these debts are being transferred, a lot of time it passes the statutes of limitations, which for credit cards is 3 to 10 years, while the bad debts keep reflecting in your credit score for 8 years, while most of the time you are NOT obligated to pay this debt. There are zombie debt collectors who specialize in trying to collect this kind of debt and will still try to recover it.
- Be cautious before taking any step: Sometimes debt collectors force customers to pay a partial payment of a time-barred debt which could’ve been ignored if it was disputed by the customers. Now that the customers have acknowledged the debt and have made the payment, the statute of limitations starts again, through which the debt becomes enforceable by law and the customer becomes bound to pay the rest of the debt as well.
- If the collector validates the debt: This is the most concerning situation that can occur for customers, but the good news is that it can be tackled in the following ways:
- Understand the working of debt collectors and research your rights well: Debt collectors have the motive of getting more and more profits on the debt they have bought from the creditors and in order to do that they might scare you with extra charges and fees. As their motive is generally money-centric, if you can prepare a plan that benefits them, they will surely be going to agree with that. Debt collectors can’t take money from your bank accounts or seize your property unless they have court orders. They can call you during working hours, they can’t threaten you to take illegal action, if they do you can always resort to legal remedies.
- Work out the plan and the amount that you can pay and how you can pay in installments or a one-time settlement: If you have to pay the debt then the best option will be to have a plan of when and how much you can pay. Make sure you quote a less price than you decided to pay as there might be a counteroffer from the debt collectors depending on the situation.
- Negotiate and get it in writing through an agreement: Negotiation can be a technical task and you might require a specialist to do that for you. If you are someone facing this, then you can straightaway reach out to Donaldson Williams on https://www.donaldsonwilliams.com/ . Last but not least, make sure you have your documentation in line. From the first communication by the debt collector to the final negotiation, everything needs to be documented properly.
- Another way out can be rehabilitation or consolidation of your loans: Consolidation is a process where multiple debts are consolidated into one debt and you are required to pay in nine installments in a amount that is fixed. Rehabilitation is the process that helps in student loan refinance by taking out student loans out of default and consolidating through refinance by private lenders.
These were the bunch of options that you can have as a customer, you can compare them and decide the best option for yourself!
The process of Debt verification letters and debt validation letters can be a complex task in itself, but they can be tacked easily if plan it properly. Seeing the rising number of complaints of fraud and mistakes that are done by debt collectors, makes it important to check and verify the information before taking any steps. Despite having a debt, there is still a chance that you may not have to pay it because debt collectors do not have proof of their claims!