And people thought they were powerless against that evil phone call from the bill collector, right? WRONG! Listen up — you do have rights when it comes to debt collections, but not many are even aware of what the laws say regarding those issues — namely one particular point everyone should take note of when it comes to credit repair. Debt validation.
You Do Have a Right to Ask for DEBT VALIDATION When Called by a Debt Collector
What is “debt validation”? It’s your right as a consumer to ask for proof from a collector who calls you about the debt in question. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are actually required to send you notice within 5 days of calling you. If they don’t, you may have a lawsuit you can file for violation of your rights.
Moreover, the notice should tell you that you have 30 days to either validate or dispute the debt — which means you technically have a chance to ensure that the debt doesn’t even belong to you. If you miss out on that chance, then legally the collector can assume that the debt really is yours to pay.
So What Do You Need to Do When Validating Debt?
Here’s a list of the steps in detail:
- Simply Send a Letter to the Collection Agency (CA) — The letter should ask for them to show “proof,” to validate the debt they’re asking about. You can find a sample letter for formatting right here.
- While Waiting for a Reply, You Can Check to See if the CA Is Licensed — If the CA is not, that ends the game entirely. You win. Not every state requires CA licensing, though. The ones that don’t include Georgia, California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
- If Not Licensed, You Send Another Letter — This letter will specifically say that the CA is violating state law, and if they continue harassing you, you’ll file a lawsuit against them. ‘Nuff said.
- If the CA Goes Dumb Even After That, You Then File That Lawsuit — And if the CA doesn’t even send you sufficient proof, you then send a copy of the validation letter you originally sent, a copy of the return receipt, and a statement to the FDCPA that the CA in question has violated your rights. End of story.
Know That It’s Well Worth the Time You’ll Take to Get That Done
All it takes is just one letter. If they show proof, and the proof’s all good…. Then you know what you’re dealing with. If not, then you’re a step ahead of the game and that much closer to cleaning out your own credit report without spending a dime! How’s that for tips from the H.O.P.E. Program?