The fair debt collection laws require a debt collector to notify a consumer of the information regarding the debt and the consumer’s right to "validate" or verify" the debt. Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector must send the consumer a written notice containing the following information:
- the amount of the debt;
- the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
- a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
- a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and
- a statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
Always make the collector validate the debt. No matter what, make the collector validate the debt by sending a "debt validation" letter. The letter should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, and you should retain copies of the letter and receipts for your records. No one should ever pay any money to anyone without a full understanding that the correct person or entity is collecting the money. Also, a request for validation generally should stop all collection efforts until the collector provides the consumer with the required information. Below is the text of a sample (and very simple) validation letter. Please read our disclaimer before using this form.
By Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested
Name of Debt Collector
Address of Debt Collector
Re: Your Account No: ____ ("Account")
Pursuant to my rights under the state and federal fair debt collection laws, I hereby dispute and demand proper validation of the alleged debt owed on the Account. Please send me verification of the debt or a copy of any judgment against me. Please provide me with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. You must cease all collection activities against me until you comply with this demand. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.