The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is designed to protect consumers from abusive or harassing conduct, false or misleading statements or unfair act by Debt Collectors.
What validation rights do you have under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
As usual, we start with the statutory definition. Thanks to LII.
Read the code section- 15 U.S.C. §1692g here 15 US Code section 1692g.
When the debt collector contacts you the first time, they must send a notice, called a validation notice, or 30 day letter, which gives you 30 days after you receive the letter to dispute the debt.
If you dispute the debt, they must do certain things before they get back in contact with you, but remember, if you take longer than 30 days, they do not have to do anything. For example, if they send the letter January 1, and you don’t tell them that you dispute until June 1, they do not have to validate the debt.
But what is “validation”? It is nothing more than confirming with the creditor that you are the correct person to collect from, and that the amount is correct. They check just a few things. A debt collector must contact the creditor (read here on the difference between a creditor and a debt collector), and check your name, maybe your social security number, and the balance. That’s all they have to do.
Usually, they will send you “validation”.
On the other hand, if they fail to provide validation, and they continue to collect, they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Some examples where this is a violation-
- If they don’t ever send you a letter that explains your right to dispute. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is a case that is hard to prove, and in many cases, it is done by smaller debt collectors, often overseas. They are hard to sue, even for good violations because they are hard to notify that they are being sued, and even if you do sue them, they are overseas, so your ability to collect from them is often very limited.
- If they send you a letter, and you dispute, and they ignore your collection letter, and keep writing, or calling, etc. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- If they send you a letter, and you dispute, and they ignore you letter, and sue (this is only possible if they sue, for example, lawyers, and debt collectors who sue in their own name.). This would be a violation.
- If they send you a letter, and you dispute, and they see that you are a different person from the person who owes the money (eg: different name, or different social security number), and they continue to collect. This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
There are some notable exceptions. The key one being check collectors who are parading as prosecutors. Check collectors who are pretending to be prosecutors have their own special exemptions. They are not covered by any of the above IF the accounts are being actually reviewed by a lawyer in the office of that prosecutor. 15 U.S.C. §1692p
If you are contacted by a collector, you should keep track of all of the statements that he made (you can use our form or just write it down), and send them a letter asking for more information, called validation of the debt. There is a sample here, and a dispute noting that you have a lawyer here. Note that not all the questions must be answered.
If you have been impacted by anything we mentioned here, you can make an appointment to see us.
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OUR LEGAL FEES:
The rights afforded to you, as a consumer, under the FCRA and the FDCPA means that a corporation or party who has violated your rights may ultimately be made to pay for statutory damages, actual damages, and your legal fees. Therefore, if we agree to represent you in any case, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we are successful and we recover on your behalf. We are here to serve and have assisted many consumers TO enforce their legal rights. Let us try and see if we can help you too. That means you pay no fee in your case unless we recover.
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Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.
1650 Willow Lawn Drive
Richmond, VA 23230