What Are Debt Validation Letters?

A person writing a debt validation letter at a table with a laptop in from of them.

The Significance of A Debt Validation Letter

It’s not uncommon to receive a debt collection call or if a debt collector sends a notice in the mail looking for payments. When a debt collector contacts you about an unpaid debt, your first order of business should be to obtain a debt validation letter(DV).

Under the federal law Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collectors are legally required to provide proof that the debt is legitimate, that the debt is legally yours, and that the collector has the right to collect for the original creditor.

Why Do You Need Debt Validation Letter?

Protection from Debt Collectors

Debt validation letters are assets during the debt collection process. Mistakes are common and can often lead to you paying off debt you don’t owe or that is past the legal statute of limitations. 

Debt validation letters are designed for consumers’ protection under federal law. Before any money changes hands, collectors are legally required to prove that their debts are legitimate. Asking for information about the debt is a quick and legally recognized way to establish legitimacy that you owe the debt, before you proceed to negotiate with a debt collector.

Debt validation letters are also used to explain how much money you owe and to whom. In addition to the outstanding debts, they will also show any extra fees or interest rates the debt collector has added. 

A person holding a validation letter above a table

How to Write a Debt Verification Letter?

Crafting Your Debt Verification Letter

If you’ve been contacted by a collection agency, the debt collector must send you a written notice within five days of the initial communication. If you have not received a debt validation letter, you have the right to a debt verification request by writing a debt verification letter, or a debt dispute letter to the debt collector's mailing address via certified mail.

Similar to the validation letter, a verification letter is a valuable tool in the debt collection process. If you’re unsure about whether a collection agency has the right to request payment, this letter can be used to dispute the validity of the debt. This letter can be used to:

  • Determine the exact amounts you owe
  • Gather documents that verify your debt
  • Get information on who you owe
  • Determine how old the debt is
  • Place a pause on the collection's proceedings

There are two main benefits in asking for the debt verification. First, the information collection agencies provide you with may be beneficial in resolving your debt. Secondly, if the debt collector continues with overwhelming attempts to collect payment for a short time, you may be able to pause the collection efforts.

Both benefits allow you the chance to breathe and consider your options carefully, a luxury that could be vital to your repayment.

It’s important to note that collection agencies are only required to provide you with the name of the original creditor, information about the debt, and the name of the person legally responsible for the debt.

The verification letter must be sent within 30 days of the first time you were contacted by the collector. Once the letter is received, the collection agency is legally bound to respond with the above information and must respond in writing before continuing their attempts to collect payment.

Although a debt verification letter can be sent past the 30 days mark, the collection agency is no longer required to pause their collection attempts.

If the agency refuses or fails to respond within the legal timeframe or with the correct information, you can file a complaint against them with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Download our free debt validation letter sample

Responding to Debt Collections Wisely

Maximizing the Impact of Your Correspondence

When crafting your debt verification letter, it's essential to include requests for specific documents that prove the debt validation, the precise amount owed, and the identity of the original creditor. This approach not only clarifies your financial standing but can also uncover any inaccuracies in the collection agency's claims. Furthermore, it places a hold on collection efforts, granting you precious time to formulate an informed repayment or dispute the debt..

Navigating Collection Disputes

Leveraging Fair Debt Collection Practices

Should the collection agency neglect to respond adequately or within the set timeframe, you're equipped to escalate the matter by filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This step makes sure that your rights under the FDCPA are respected and that collection agencies are held accountable for their actions.

Empowering Yourself with Knowledge

You’ll find a sample debt validation letter in our free Consumer Guide To Good Credit, along with more advice on what to do if you find yourself dealing with a debt collection agency.

Please note: Credit.org does not provide legal advice.
Please consult a qualified attorney before responding to lawsuits or other legal threats.

Article written by
Melinda Opperman
Melinda Opperman is an exceptional educator who lives and breathes the creation and implementation of innovative ways to motivate and educate community members and students about financial literacy. Melinda joined credit.org in 2003 and has over two decades of experience in the industry.

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