In debt settlement, you’ll often have to deal with third-party debt collectors who’ve either been assigned your debt by the original creditor or they’ve purchased the debt and own it completely. One of the tactics you might be able to use to buy more time with collectors is debt validation. Not only does it possibly give you a few more weeks to come up with a settlement, it can also assure that you pay only the collectors who are authorized to collect on your debts.
What is Debt Validation?
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors have to give you a written notice informing you of your right to receive verification of your debt. This debt validation notice must be sent to you within five days of the first contact from a debt collector.
When you make a debt validation request, you’re asking the debt collector to send proof that the debt is yours and that they’re authorized by the original creditor to collect that debt from you. Once the debt collector receives your debt validation notice, they must stop collection activity on your account. That means no more calls or letters until they send the debt validation.
Your debt validation request must be in writing received by the collector within 30 days of receiving the debt validation notice from the collection agency.
What Goes in a Debt Validation Letter?
Your debt validation letter doesn’t have to be complex or fancy. You don’t have to quote directly from the FDCPA or list the specific section of law that gives you the right to debt validation. Some sample debt validation letters you find on the internet include this information as a way to show debt collectors that you’re aware of your rights, but it’s not necessary. Plus, thousands of people copy and paste letters from the internet and debt collectors probably know when you’ve done the same thing.
In your debt validation letter, you can say something like,
“To Whom it May Concern: This letter is sent to your attempts to collect the debt with account number: XXXX-XXX. I dispute your claim that I owe this debt. Please send validation of this debt that you say I owe.”
There are many ways you can word it, but the gist should be that you’re disputing the debt and requesting validation.
Debt Collector Response
The next step is to wait for the debt collector to respond. While you’re waiting on that response, you should continue accumulating funds in your settlement account that you can use to settle the account if the collector comes back with appropriate validation.
Some debt collectors may respond immediately with exactly what’s needed to show the debt is yours. Others may respond with a vague printout that doesn’t really prove anything. If you get something like that, you should dispute again citing the insufficiency of the previous “proof.” If the debt collector doesn’t respond at all, it probably isn’t the last you’ve heard about that particular debt. It may go to a different collection agency in a few months and you may need to start the debt validation process all over.