After the financial pressure of the holiday season its time to start worrying about all of your unpaid bills. Often times, after a bill goes unpaid for an extended period of time and the creditor’s collection efforts were unsuccessful, it will enlist the help of a collection agency to do its dirty work. Once an agency begins calling, you may be wondering why it is telling you to pay a debt owed to someone else and wondering if this is legal. The simple answer to this question is yes, as long as the collector adheres to the guidelines proscribed
under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in its attempt to collect the debt.
Once the debt is in the hands of the collector you are entitled to certain rights and need to make sure you are equipped with the necessary information to protect yourself. One of the most important rights you are afforded as a debtor is the right to dispute the debt and request validation from the collector. When the collector sends you its initial letter, before agreeing to make a payment, demand that the collector “validate” the debt. After requesting this validation, the debtor may not contact you and must cease all collection efforts until it provides you with the requested validation.
In your request for validation, you should demand written proof that the collection agency has the right to collect the debt from you, ask for a copy of the original agreement from the creditor, account statements
from the original creditor explaining the original balance of the debt and the amount you currently owe and how it was calculated. A collection agency that receives a timely demand for validation must discontinue all collection efforts until that validation is provided.
Below is a sample Request for Validation letter that can be sent to a collection agency. Make sure it is specifically tailored to your situation, i.e. “I dispute the amount of the debt,” “I dispute that I owe this debt as it was paid in full,” “I dispute that this debt belongs to me;” and it is best to send it certified mail so that you have proof it was received by the agency.
Validation of Debt
City, State, Zip
Name of the Collection
City, State, Zip
Re: Acct #XXXXX
To Whom It May Concern:
This will serve as your
legal notice under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(FDCPA), to cease all communication with me in regard to the debt
referenced above.Do not contact me or any third parties regarding
this debt via the telephone.
Furthermore, I formally
dispute the validity of this debt. Please provide me with
documentation that supports why you believe this debt belongs to
me, and why you believe I owe this amount. Please send me
copies of the original application for this account, any signatures
associated with this account, any bills associated with this
You are also notified
that should any adverse information be placed against my credit
reports appropriate actions will be taken under the federal Fair
Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Thank you for your attention
to this matter.
When you’re being pursued by debt collectors, you have rights, and we’re here to help. SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting consumer rights since 2005. If you feel that you’re rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.