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If you feel like you’re swimming in debt, you’re not alone. Our findings revealed that Americans under 30 are shouldering more than $1 trillion alone.
Dealing with debt can be overwhelming, especially when creditors start getting in touch to request payment. If you’ve been contacted by a creditor or collection agency to pay a debt — especially one you don’t recognize — your first step will probably be getting some more information about the debt with a debt validation letter.
Here’s everything to know about debt validations letters so you can get started taking charge of your debt.
What is a debt validation letter?
A debt validation letter is a written correspondence you send a creditor or collection agency to get more information about a debt you owe or to challenge whether or not a debt is valid — which you have the right to do under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Anyone trying to collect a debt from you is required by the FDCPA to provide information to you about the debt, such as who the creditor is — including their name and address — and how much you owe.
Thus, the purpose of a debt validation letter is to:
- Help you verify the debt is yours
- Confirm you haven't already paid the debt
- Get debt collectors to prove the debt exists and that they’re authorized to collect it
Sample debt validation letter
Here’s a template for a debt validation letter you could send to a debt collector to get more information about your debt. Try to send this letter within 30 days of being contacted about a debt.
- [Your name]
- [Your address]
- [Debt collector’s name]
- [Debt collector’s address]
- Re: [Debt account number or description]
Dear [collector or creditor’s name];
You have recently been in touch with me about a debt you are trying to collect and I am writing for more information. On [date], I received a [voicemail, email, letter] from you about debt [number or description of the debt]. I am requesting that you provide the following further information about this debt:
- Why you believe I owe the debt.
- To whom I owe the debt. Please include the name and address of the creditor. [If your state licenses creditors or collection agencies, ask for the license number here].
- If the debt is not currently with the original creditor, please provide the name and address of both the old and new creditors and when the debt was transferred. Also, please let me know how much the debt was when it was obtained by the latest creditor and if any fees have been added since then. Please provide documentation.
- A copy of my original written agreement to pay the debt or other official verification that I am required to pay.
- A copy of the last billing statement from the original creditor and any official documents that show any additional charges since this last billing statement.
- When was this debt due and when was the last payment recorded on this debt?
Also, please provide me with any relevant state licensing numbers of your own to verify your authority in collecting this debt.
Thank you for reviewing these requests and sending through your speedy and clear response. I am reviewing your claim that I owe this debt and require this additional information to help me decide how to proceed.
- [Your name]
FAQs: After sending your debt validation letter
Make sure to send your debt validation letter through registered mail so you can track its progress and have documentation that it arrived at its destination. After you’ve sent your letter, you’re most likely going to have some follow-up actions to take. Here are some questions you might have next and how to handle them.
What happens if I don’t receive the validation of debt? If you send your debt validation letter within 30 days of being contacted about a debt, a creditor must reply to you before attempting to collect again. If they don’t reply, this could be because they can’t verify your debt or because they’ve stopped trying to collect from you. An attorney with experience dealing with creditors may be able to advise you on what to do in this case.
What if I’m sure the debt isn’t mine? You don’t necessarily have to wait on the debt collector to verify your debt or confirm that they may collect from you. You could do some of your own digging to get more information about it. Start by contacting the original creditor to see if they can help you determine if this debt is valid and if the collection company is authorized to collect it from you.
After researching, if you believe all or part of the debt is not yours, it is within your rights to dispute the debt. Dispute the debt in writing with a dated letter stating why you don’t believe you owe the debt and asking the collector to stop contacting you. Make sure you also request that the collector inform any future parties who deal with the debt that it has been disputed. You have 30 days after you receive your debt validation notice to send a letter disputing it.
What happens if the collector verifies I owe the debt? Even if the debt is yours and all the information on it is correct, there’s a chance it could be outside of the statute of limitations in your state. The statute of limitations is the legally mandated window in which debt collectors may attempt to recover their funds from you. Each state has different laws about the statute of limitations and the lifetime of a debt, so make sure you research your state’s laws. Sometimes even one payment can restart the statute in your state.
If you do owe the debt and it is within the statute of limitations, you might want to create a payment plan or reach out to the creditor to get information about your options for settling the debt.