Collections agencies are well-known for their dogged tenacity in trying to reclaim a debt. Because of their overzealousness, it’s entirely possible they try to collect on a debt that they are unable to actually collect on. Requesting verification or validation of debts from a collections agency is an important step in repairing your credit or disputing fraudulent, erroneous, and other negative items from your credit report.
These letters can help you get started. You only have 30 days after being notified of a debt to request validation. We’ll look at a sample letter and then discuss writing tips and next steps.
Table of Contents
Debt Validation Letter Sample
[Your City, State, Zip Code]
[Debt Collector’s Name]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Re: [Account Number]
In response to the [letter/phone call] I received from your agency on [date], I am requesting that you provide validation of this debt.
Should your offices provide the proper documentation validating the debt, I will require at least 30 days to investigate this information. During this period, all collection activity must cease and desist. If any action is taken which could be damaging to my credit profile, I will consult legal counsel. This includes, but is not limited to, listing information that may be inaccurate or invalidated.
Downloadable Debt Validation Letter Templates
What to Include in a Debt Validation Letter
Do not simply copy and paste the letter; customize it to your situation. You’re speaking to a human, so don’t be threatening, such as mentioning a lawsuit or filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Instead, you want to sound firm and determined to resolve the matter. It also does not help citing legal codes, as the collections agency likely knows them by heart already. Instead, be concise and professional, while avoiding any specific information about the debt.
Make sure to make no admission of guilt of not paying any debts, nor ownership of any debts in question. This, or promising to pay a debt, valid or not, could reset the time limit that a collections agency can pursue the debt — even after the statute of limitations expires — or sue you for the amount owed. This also goes for trying to call the collection agency, as the same protections are not given to calls.
Additionally, if you send a validation request for a debt you already know to be valid, you will likely only harm yourself for the above reasons. A short respite from calls and having the debt on your credit report is not worth it.
Document how, such as by letter or call, and when you were contacted originally by the collections agency. Keep a paper record of everything, in case you need to prove to the credit bureaus exactly what happened.
Debt Validation Letter Responses: What to Do After Sending Your Letter
If the Collection Agency Doesn’t Respond
The collection agency has 30 days to respond to your letter, which is why it’s important to send the letter and request a receipt upon the agency receiving it. After 30 days with no response, they are no longer legally able to make collection attempts on the debt. This does not mean you don’t still owe the money if the debt is indeed yours; it just means they can’t call or send you letters. If they do, it’s a violation of the Fair Credit Collection Practices Act, which you can report to the Federal Trade Commission as a violation. Note that if the debt is bought by another agency, as is fairly common every six months or so, you will have to start this process anew, as the new agency is not barred from contacting you.
Agencies may not respond because they can’t validate the debt, or it isn’t worth their time to do so. In either case, you won’t be bothered by that agency again — though they can still try to sue you if the statute of limitations has not passed.
If the Debt is Verified
The worst case is: they do contact you and verify the debt. In this case, you have a few options.
You could simply ignore them, including the renewed calls and letters from the collections agency. You will still owe the money; they could still sue you for it. This will also have a negative impact on your credit score. You will probably have a hard time either qualifying for a new line of credit, such as an auto loan or mortgage, until the seven-year time limit for the credit entry expires.
Next, you could make a pay for delete offer. You pay off a portion of the debt in exchange for the debt being settled, resulting in a note on your credit report that you no longer owe, but still missed payments. This has a negative impact as well, but not as much as an unresolved, late debt.
Paying off the debt in full is the best option, especially if the debt is yours. This eliminates the debt without further action on your part, which is easier, though requires more money, than negotiating with the collections agency.
Contacting the Credit Bureaus
If the debt is not validated, be sure to check your credit report after the 30 days. If the entry is still there, contact the three credit bureaus with a dispute letter and written proof that you sent the validation letter, the collections agency received it, and that is has been more than 30 days. You should be able to get the entry removed — at least until another agency buys the debt.
Have a Credit Repair Company Help Dispute and Update Your Credit Report
If you want someone to do the hard work for you, preparing a letter and making sure the collections agency abides by the timeline, and then contacting the credit bureaus on your behalf, consider hiring a credit repair company. They are well-versed in the language to use to get a response, and have experience dealing with collections agencies. They can also help you raise your credit score in general.
For more information on credit scores and how you might be able to improve yours, visit our Credit Score Learning Center. Need more writing tips or other letter templates? Visit our credit and collections letter template resource center.
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