Hi, if you want free updates from my blog, you can enter your email address here.

Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection

This is a guest post by Sergei Lemberg, a consumer attorney.

Many people aren’t surprised when a debt collector calls. After all, they know they owe an overdue debt. But what happens when you’re taken by surprise because you didn’t realize that you owe a debt or had forgotten that you owed money? Bill collectors often spring this kind of surprise on unsuspecting people, and make people so desperate that they end up paying the bill – even when they don’t owe the money in the first place.

That’s why, if a debt collector calls, the first step you should take is to demand validation of the debt. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a bill collector must notify you in writing within five days of contacting you via phone. In their letter, they must state the name of the creditor, the amount you owe, and the fact that you have 30 days to dispute the debt. The bottom line is that, when you receive a debt collection call, ask for documentation of the debt in writing. The FDCPA says that a debt collection agency can’t call or write you about the debt again until you receive the proof.

When you get the paperwork, don’t put off looking at it thoroughly. Even though it might be tempting to set it aside, it’s important to go through the letter line by line. You may find out that you do not owe the debt. Perhaps you paid it long ago. Perhaps you didn’t pay the debt, but it’s a very old debt.

Very old debts are often purchased by debt collection agencies for a song. These are debts that original creditors have written off as “uncollectable,” but that doesn’t mean that a debt collection agency won’t try to collect. After all, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. You should know, though, that many states have laws saying that a debt is no longer collectible after a certain number of years. This is called the statute of limitations. Debt collection agencies count on most consumers being unaware of the statute of limitations, and go ahead and try to collect anyway. Unfortunately, more often than not, people get tricked into paying up.

If the documentation you receive lists a creditor other than the original creditor (such as a case where a debt collection agency purchased liquidated bad debt), you have the right to ask for the name and address of the original creditor – providing you do so within that 30-day window. That’s why it’s critical to review the paperwork when it comes in the mail. You don’t want to miss the window of opportunity you have to dispute the debt.

Validating the debt is an important first step in fighting debt collectors. If you don’t feel you can do it alone, by all means contact a fair debt attorney. It should be free, and having an advocate by your side can mean the difference between sleepless nights and peace of mind.

Get more legal tips

Sign-up below to receive my bi-monthly email newsletter with free legal tips. All fields are required.

See also...


10 Responses to “Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection”

  1. [...] Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection … [...]

  2. [...] Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection … [...]

  3. [...] Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection … [...]

  4. [...] Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection … [...]

  5. Social Media
    April 3rd, 2010

    Many states have laws saying that a debt is no longer collectible after a certain number of years. This is called the statute of limitations.

  6. kpo
    April 6th, 2010

    I have heard this kind of case in some of my friends. Well, I hope these banks and the call agent wouldn’t do this.

  7. This is some great advice and I wish more people would have the sense to listen, and have sense with their money in the first place!

  8. Megan
    April 9th, 2010

    Oh thank for this. So many people today are scammers who take advantage of other unsuspecting people. We should always have constant vigilance and awareness against scammers like this.
    I would share a practice I got from my mother. She would collect all the receipts of payments she had and keep it in a safe place. This way when a dispute comes, she would have proof that she already paid for it. It’s a very good and practical practice.
    I didn’t know about the law of statute of limitations so thank you for sharing.
    PS…since we’re in the topic of awareness, I’d also like to share this
    to help you be more aware of the other dangers today.

  9. IPV6 Migration Networking
    April 9th, 2010

    This is an uphill battle – its like the old saying about being on your perm record forever and the sad thing is most people don’t even know their credit is messed up until its too late!

  10. I wish I read this post earlier because I ended up paying for a debt that was over 15 years ago. I was convinced to make the payment within the time frame given by the debt collector because he said I would end up paying high interests after the time given.


Comments are automatically closed on older posts.

  • Legal tips by email

    Sign-up below to get email tips and exclusive discounts on videos, webinars, and future items.

    All fields are required.

  • Receive updates

    By email
    By rss (full feed)
  • About Andrew Flusche

    Lawyer, bicyclist, husband.
    More about me...
    Tumble Log
    View Andrew Flusche's profile on LinkedIn
    Andrew Flusche's Facebook Profile
  • Popular Posts