The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act gives you the right to send a debt collector a letter requesting a proof-of-debt letter to establish the validity of your debt. This is a good idea if you’re not sure the debt is valid. You also want to make sure the debt collector is legitimate and that the original creditor really hired the agency to collect your late payment. Debt verification only applies to debt collectors, not the original creditors themselves. If the original creditor tries to collect a debt from you, this rule does not apply.
Write a debt validation request to the collections agency.
Include a request for a description of the amount of money owed and the name and address of the original creditor.
Ask for verification detailing that you agreed to pay the requested amount to the original creditor, proof that the statute of limitations has not expired and ask for proof the debt collector is licensed to collect money in your state, if you’re at all suspicious of the charge.
Send the letter to the collections agency within 30 days of receipt of the notice, or the debt will be assumed valid by the debt collector.
Note that the collections agency cannot continue to pursue collection of the debt until you’re provided with a verification letter. After receiving your request, if the debt collector continues to go after the debt without providing you with a proof-of-debt letter, you have the right to sue the agency in federal or state court.
- Credit InfoCenter: Letter to Validate Debt -- Requesting a Collection Agency to Validate a Debt -- Sample Debt Letter
- Nolo: Debt Collection Defense -- Requiring That the Collector Document the Debt
- Federal Trade Commission: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How to Tell the Difference Between a Legitimate Debt Collector and Scammers." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "A Debt Collector Contacted Me About a Debt I Already Paid. What Should I Do?" Accessed April 8, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Information Does a Debt Collector Have to Give Me About the Debt?" Accessed April 8, 2020.
- State of California Department of Justice. "Debt Collectors." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- FTC Consumer Information. "Debt Collection FAQs." Accessed April 8, 2020.
- Experian. "How Long Does It Take for Information to Come Off Your Credit Reports?" Accessed April 8, 2020.
Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.