The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") grants consumers the power to require that a debt collector verify the amount and validity of a debt. This is often referred to as "debt verification" or "debt validation." However, to fully utilize this power, consumers must act quickly, within thirty (30) days, once contacted by a debt collector.
Once a collection agent makes first contact regarding a debt, you have thirty days to dispute the validity of the debt. The agent must provide the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current collector, in response to a written request made within this thirty-day period. If you don’t dispute the validity of the debt, the collection agent will assume that it is a valid debt.
A collector's first contact letter typically provides the following information. If it does not, it has five days from initial contact with you to provide such information:
- the amount of the debt
- the name of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed
- you have 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt
- if you don’t dispute the debt’s validity, the collector will assume it is valid
- if you do dispute the debt’s validity within 30 days, the agency will send you verification of it, and
- if you send a written request within 30 days for the name and address of the original creditor, the agency will provide it, if different from the current creditor.
Once you request verification, collection of the debt must cease. Once you send a writing disputing the debt or requesting verification of the name and address of the original creditor, the collection agent must cease all collection efforts and may not resume them before conducting an investigation and re-checking the relevant information about the debt with the original creditor and mailing you the verification, which must include the original creditor’s name and address.
If the debt collector is an attorney, the attorney must stop all collection efforts, but may file a lawsuit. Remember, if you receive notice of a lawsuit, the deadline to respond is probably less than the 30-day deadline to request verification of the debt.
Requesting verification of a debt may be helpful if the debt has been sold or transferred. Debt buyers don't always have sufficient information about the debts they purchase, which makes the process prone to errors in collecting the wrong amount or from the wrong people.
If you fail to dispute the validity of the debt or request the original creditor’s name and address within 30 days of receiving the first collection letter, the collection agent may assume the debt is valid and continue collection efforts. Of course, the debt collector has a right to use any legal collection effort, such as a lawsuit, to recover the amount of the debt.The experienced South Florida defense attorneys at Loan Lawyers are here to review your potential claims against a debt collector, and will help you recover the damages you deserve. To schedule a free consultation at any of our three conveniently located offices, contact Loan Lawyers today by calling (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).