With the rise in technology over the years has come a corresponding rise in scammers, including bogus debt collectors. The first way you can spot a scammer is if they do not send you a validation letter after first contacting you. If you have legitimate debt and someone is trying to collect, the collector must send you a debt validation letter. This letter outlines how much money you owe, the date that debt first occurred, and supplementary information.
However, even after receiving this initial letter, you may still be unsure about the debt and want to request additional verification. It is not uncommon in collection for errors to be made.
Further, while you may have once owed money, the statute of limitations may have run out. When this happens, your debt stays on your credit report, but a debt collector cannot come after you.
To verify the legitimacy of your debt, you can write a debt validation letter to request further information from the collector. You may be wondering, “How do I write a debt validation letter?” We’ll take you through that below. But first, we will cover exactly what a debt validation letter is, as this is the first item you will be receiving.
What Is a Debt Validation Letter?
If you owe money, whoever is collecting your debt is required by law to mail you a written notification detailing what you owe and why they are trying to collect it. This letter must be sent out within the first five days of your original contact.
The information in the debt validation letter includes the following:
- How much money you owe
- Who you owe the money to
- The declaration that the debt will be considered valid if you do not make a dispute within the first 30 days of contact
- A notification that, if you do make a dispute, the collector will send you further verification
If you do not receive the original debt validation letter, ask for it the next time a collector contacts you.
How to Write a Debt Validation Letter
Debt validation letters help clarify a confusing situation and prevent you from falling prey to a scam or paying a debt that you do not owe. A debt validation letter can also help to put the brakes on the debt collection process, allowing you to stall if you need more time to come up with the money.
If your debt is nearing the statute of limitations, your best course of action is to not contact your collector if they have not contacted you. A debt validation letter works best if you plan on paying your debt, to ensure that you are paying to the right person.
Here are the key details to ask for in your letter:
- Who the debt collector is: Ask for their name, number, and address.
- Proof that you owe the debt: Request a copy of your original contract to verify what you owe and who you owe it to.
- The age of your debt: Request a copy of your last billing statement, the amount you owed when the collector bought your debt from the original creditor, and the day of your most recent payment. This will verify if the debt is past the statute of limitations.
- The legitimacy of the debt collector: Ask if the agency is a licensed debt collector in your state.
For debt validation letter samples, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has examples of letters for a few different situations you may find yourself in.
Examples included are:
- If you do not believe you owe the debt
- If you are seeking further information on the debt
- If you just want the collector to stop bothering you
- If you would like further communication to go to your lawyer
- If you want to provide the best way to contact you
Once you have written the letter, make sure to send it by certified mail and ask for a return receipt. This way, you can document the communication between yourself and the debt collector.
The collector is required to send you back a validation notice. But while you can ask for as many details as you’d like, they are only expected to tell you who the original creditor was, how much is owed, and who owes the money. Once that information has been provided, the debt collection can resume.
Although you may want to receive additional details, having those key items verified will let you know if you truly owe the debt and how close it is to the statute of limitations. And these two pieces of information are the most essential to this process.
If you indeed owe what is being asked for and the debt is not close to the statute of limitations, it is in your best interest to find a way to pay off the debt.
But if the debt is near that date when a collector can no longer come after you, it may be in your best interest to wait it out as long as you can.
Remember that you must send in the validation letter no later than 30 days after the debt collector first contacts you. While you can still send in the letter after the 30 days are up, your debt is now considered valid, and you will not be able to pause the collection process.
Bottom Line on Debt Validation Letters
When it comes to debt validation letters, there are two different types. The first is the one the debt collector must send you within five days of contact, which details what you owe. The second type is the one that you must send within 30 days of your first contact, which requests additional information about the debt. Finally, the creditor is required to send another letter back to you detailing the original creditor, how much is owed, and who owes the debt.
The only time that it is not in your best interest to send a debt validation letter is when you are approaching the statute of limitations on your debt. Once this date has passed, a creditor can no longer ask you for money, but the debt will stay on your credit record.
If you plan on paying off your debt but need help, you can look into debt consolidation services.