Getting contacted by a debt collector is never a pleasant experience. However, if you are not sure that the debt is even yours (or know for a fact that it isn’t). An annoying situation can quickly turn into an infuriating one. The same can be true if the debt is real. However, you aren’t certain that the debt collector has a right to collect what you owe. You may be wondering, do debt collectors have to provide proof of debt, and, if so, how can you make that happen? If that has come to mind, here’s what you need to know.
Do Debt Collectors Have to Provide Proof of Debt?
To put it simply, yes, debt collectors do have the send proof of the debt. The process is referred to as debt validation.
During debt validation, the collector has to send proof that the debt exists and is your responsibility. They also have to show proof what the amount you owe as well as demonstrate that they legally have the right to collect that money from you.
However, while debt collectors do have to provide proof of debt when asked, they don’t have to do it automatically. You are responsible for requesting validation, and you need to do it quickly.
Requesting Debt Validation
When a debt collector contacts you for the first time, they have to send you a written debt validation notice within five days. In that document, the collector has to outline your right to dispute the validity of their claim within a 30-day window.
At that point, you have 30 days to file a dispute in writing. Otherwise, the collector can assume that it’s yours legally.
In order to request debt validation, you have to do so in writing. You can dispute that all or part of the debt is yours, or simply request proof that the debt exists, that it’s yours, and that the collector can legally pursue you for payment.
Usually, you can keep the letter fairly simple. Begin by listing any account number the collector may have provided you in reference to the debt they say you owe. Next, state that you are writing in response to the phone call or letter you received and that you are requesting the debt be verified and validated.
Then, write that you want the name and address of the original creditor to be provided. Additionally, request the account number for the original debt and the amount that is owed. Also, include that you want verification that the basis for claiming you owe the money is valid as well as proof that you are responsible for paying the amount that is said to be currently owed.
Collector Provided Details
After that, request the collector provide details about the debt amount and age by providing a copy of the last original creditor billing statement, a detailed explanation of any charges added or payments made since that statement date, and the date the original creditor says the account went delinquent.
At that point, you also want to ask whether the debt is within the statute of limitations as well as how that was decided to be true. Finally, request details regarding how the debt collector gained the authority to collect the debt and the organization’s current licensing details (if applicable in your or their operating state).
Finally, close out by asserting that you need that information so you can make an informed decision regarding the debt. Just make sure that you never acknowledge the debt as being yours or make any promise to pay. At this point, you want the full burden to fall on the collector before you make any commitment regarding what they say is owed.
Also, make sure to send your letter certified mail. That way, you get proof of delivery.
After Requesting Verification
Once the debt collector receives your letter, they have to cease all communication until they verify the debt. Should they fail to provide proof and continue to contact you, they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If proof arrives, review it to make sure the statute of limitations hasn’t passed. If not, and the debt is yours, you can determine how you want to proceed from there.
Do you have any tips that can help someone deal with debt collectors? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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