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When to Request a Debt Validation

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When people are dealing with collection agencies, they often don’t know their rights or how to assert them. One of the most important tools that you have is the right to demand the debt collector verify the debt they claim you owe.

The debt collection lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates know how overwhelming it can be to deal with aggressive debt collectors. We fight to protect your rights and make sure that you don’t have to pay anything you aren’t legally obligated to. If you need help getting out from under your debt, call us at (888) 726-3181 or fill out our online contact form to discuss how we can help you.

What is Debt Validation and What to Ask For?

When you are requesting debt validation, you are merely asking the debt collector to verify the amount of the debt in question and who it is owed to.

In requesting validation of your debt, your letter should ask for the following:

  • A detailed itemization of the balance due, including any late fees or interest charges
  • The date the debt was incurred
  • Who the original creditor was
  • Whether the collection agency has a license to collect debts in your state
  • A copy of the original contract, credit agreement, or another document that creates the debt obligation

We recommend that you send your debt validation letter via certified mail or in some other way so that it can be tracked, and receipt can be confirmed.

When Can I Request a Validation of the Debt?

Generally, you can request debt validation within 30 days of receiving your first communication from the debt collector. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the debt collector must provide you with:

  • The amount of debt
  • The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
  • That you have 30 days to dispute the debt
  • That if you don’t dispute the validity of the debt, it will be presumed valid
  • That if you notify the collector of your dispute, they will halt all collection efforts until they provide verification
  • The name and address of the original creditor if requested and if different from the current creditor

Typically, the disclosures are enclosed in the first letter that the debt collector sends to you, so you want to read that communication carefully. If they did not, they must provide these disclosures within five days of their first contact with you. If they fail to do so, the debt collector may be subject to harsh penalties under the FDCPA.

Most importantly, once you request verification of the debt, the collector must halt all collection efforts until they provide the requested information. If you do not dispute the debt within 30 days of receiving this information, the collector has the right to assume that the debt is valid. That said, the penalties for violating the FDCPA can be so severe, that many creditors will validate the debt even if you did not respond within that initial 30 day period.

Why Debt Validation is Necessary

Modern commercial practices around lending and transferring debt can be complex and quite confusing. Debts are assigned, sold, transferred, and serviced by a wide array of corporate entities, making it difficult to know who the debt collector is working actually for. It can also be hard to confirm the correct balance that they claim is due. They will often give you a lump sum with very little explanation. As a result, it is not only possible, but common for these companies to make any number of errors on your account.

Some typical debt-related errors are:

  • Miscalculated interest
  • Too many late fees
  • Imposing charges, they are not authorized to collect
  • Failure to account for payments that you made

The bottom line is that debt validation is an important and powerful tool for protecting your rights as a consumer.

Hounded by Aggressive Debt Collectors? Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates

Don’t let debt collectors bully you into paying more than you owe. You need someone on your side to explain your options and the best course of action. An experienced debt collection lawyer with LHA can level the playing field, help confirm the correct amount owed, and defend you against deceptive practices. Contact our Ohio debt collection lawyers at (888) 726-3181 to discuss how we can help.