Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have 30 days from the day you receive your first written communication from a debt collector to notify the debt collector that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or to request the name and address of the original creditor. This is often referred to as a debt verification letter, a debt validation letter, or a debt dispute letter. (If it has been more than 30 days since you received your first collection letter, see Cease and Desist Letters.) Your notice or request must be in writing.
Once the debt collector receives your dispute notice or debt verification request, it must immediately cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and mails that information to you. The debt collector can continue its efforts to collect the debt within the 30-day period following the first collection letter until and unless you send a dispute notice or debt verification request within that time.
Sometimes creditors sell debts to third-party debt collectors who have difficulty validating the original debt. But if you fail to send a written verification request within the first 30 days of receiving the first collection letter, you will miss the opportunity to capitalize on this.
How To Send a Debt Verification Letter to a Debt Collector
To request verification of and/or dispute a debt, send a debt verification letter to the debt collector via certified mail, return receipt requested so that you will have proof of receipt (you will receive a green certified mail card in the mail showing the date the debt collector received your letter. Save this card!) Also save a copy of every letter you send. Your letter should include the debt collector’s account number, the name of the alleged creditor, and the alleged amount owed. It may be helpful to refer to the information in the initial collection letter that you received when drafting your letter. For your letter to be valid, it must contain certain specific language.
Sample Debt Verification Request Letter Sent to a Debt Collector:
[Your name] [Your address]
RE: Collection Efforts for Account # [their account number listed on their collection letter]
[Creditor’s name] [Creditor’s address]
To Whom It May Concern:
This is to notify you that the above-referenced debt is disputed in its entirety. You are also notified that I request the name and address of the original creditor, as well as a copy of any judgment, if applicable.
You are required to cease collection of the debt until you obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and mail me a copy thereof. You will be held strictly liable under the law should you fail to comply.
[Your printed (typed) name]
[Via Certified Mail, Return-Receipt Requested]
If a debt collector fails to provide you with verification of the debt and continues to contact you, we may be able to sue them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and recoup up to $1,000 plus our attorney’s fees (we would make the debt collector pay your attorney’s fees for you). This is why it is so important to save the return receipt card demonstrating that the debt collector received your verification request. If you sent a verification request to a debt collector and they ignored it, contact us right now to see if you have a case. Legal consultations with us are always free.