Should you validate your debt or verify it? Why and how?

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Should you validate your debt or verify it? Why and how?

What should you do if a debt collection agency calls you regarding a debt you aren’t sure of? Will you pay off the debt immediately? Will you talk with your family and then decide or will you ignore the debt completely?

Some people get scared when a stranger calls them and asks for money. When a debt collector or a junk debt buyer demands payments, they pay money over the phone simply to avoid harassment. This is nothing but a financial disaster. A big financial disaster.

Logically you shouldn’t pay money to a stranger without asking him to prove the debt. But how will you ask the debt collection agency to prove it?

Well, you have 2 options - debt validation and debt verification. But you can’t use the 2 options at the same time. Let’s find out why.

What does it mean to validate a debt?

Debt validation is the process of receiving a written verification of a debt from the collection agency. The collection agency has to prove that the debt is really your responsibility and the outstanding balance is accurate. The collection agency also needs to prove that they have been assigned to collect the debt.

You can send a debt validation letter via certified mail to the CA and request for the following details:

  1. How much you owe and to whom
  2. How was the amount calculated
  3. Copies of all the statements related to debt
  4. Copy of the original contract
  5. Documents proving that the CA is licensed in the state
  6. Provide a copy of any judgment (if applicable)

As per the federal laws, the collection agency can’t continue collection activities unless they validate the debt. If a collection agency doesn’t validate debt, then you can easily send a Cease and Desist letter to stop collection attempts.

What is debt verification?

Debt verification is the process wherein the collector confirms in writing that the owed amount is correct. The amount is what the creditor is claiming is owed. The debt collector doesn’t have to provide documents of the alleged debt.

The main aim of debt verification is to resolve the problem of debt collection agencies contacting the wrong person for collecting debts that have been paid already. They are not legally obligated to show copies of bills and statements.

However, there is a dispute regarding this definition. Actually, the FDCPA has not explained debt verification properly, and this is why there is a confusion.

RobertEG, the community leader and legendary contributory at FICO Forums said,

“It is not universal in the case law and could be viewed as deceptive on their part to lead you to believe they don't have substantive validation requirements.

While a debt collector is not required under the explicit language of the FDCPA to provide you their supporting documentation upon which they based their verification of the accuracy of the debt, that does not equate to their ability to verify without supporting documentation. A debt collector is required to have in their files or obtain from the creditor sufficient documentation to support a finding that the debt is accurate and that you are the responsible party.

Federal appellate jurisdictions vary on whether or not a debt collector is required to provide any supporting documentation. While some jurisdictions, such as the selective decision cited by your legal jockey, may indicate no need to provide documentation under FDCPA 809(b), that is not universally the case law in all federal appellate jurisdictions. So stating borders on the deceptive and is not, in my opinion, appropriate in a DV response.”

A debt verification letter is not as powerful as a debt validation letter. But it’s importance can’t be ignored. If there is an inaccurate negative listing on your credit report, then you should ask the original creditor to verify it. Remember, you can’t ask a creditor to validate a debt. The FDCPA doesn’t give you that right. However, as per the FCRA laws, you can ask a creditor to remove the negative listing from your credit report if he can’t verify it. You can also sue the original creditor if required.

Why should you validate or verify your debts?

You should opt for debt validation because:

  1. The collection agency may not have the papers to legally collect the debt
  2. You may have already settled the debt with the original creditor
  3. The collection agency has misplaced all the papers and wrongly accused you to pay off debt
  4. The collection agency may go away when you initiate the debt validation process
  5. The collection agency is simply ignoring the law

Why should you verify your debts?

You should verify your debts because:

  1. The original creditor has listed a delinquent account on your credit report. But you don’t have this account.
  2. The negative listing is hurting your credit score.

How should you validate or verify your debts?

The process is same in both the cases.

Debt validation

Send a debt validation letter via certified mail within 30 days of receiving a debt validation notice to the collection agency.

Debt verification

Send a debt verification letter via certified mail to the original creditor to get your debts verified.

Send this letter if you feel that the creditor has made a wrong listing on your credit report. You can sue the creditor if he fails to verify your debt.

You can send a debt verification letter to the collection agency but it won’t make much difference. Send a validation letter instead.

Debt validation letter versus debt verification letter

Debt verificationDebt validation
You can send it to both the debt collection agency and the creditorYou can send it to a debt collection agency only
It demands only a verification of debt like the contact details of the debtorIt demands proper validation of debt like the original contract, bills, statements, etc.
It isn’t enough to stop debt collection activitiesIt can stop debt collection activities if the collector can’t validate the debt

Can you dispute the debt if the validation period has expired?

Obviously, you can send a debt validation letter after 30 days, which is considered as the normal validation period. However, the collection agency is not obligated to entertain your validation request.

If you want your debt to be validated, send a letter within 30-days of receiving a validation notice.

Conclusion

In the event of a lawsuit, only a legitimate debt validation letter is considered as an acceptable document that proves you owe a debt. If the collector is unable to prove the legitimacy of the debt, you can ask him to stop collection calls. You can even file a lawsuit if the collector continues to call you since it’s a violation of the FDCPA laws.

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