What Is a Debt Collection Validation Notice?

Debt collectors must send a written notice to consumers that contains specific information about any debt. Known as a validation notice, it must also specify actions that the debtor may take in response to the notice.

In terms of section 809(a) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors must send written validation notices to consumers within five days of initial communication. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Debt Collection Rule clarifies what information about the debt and a consumer’s rights debt collectors must include in the notice.

What Information Must Debt Collectors Include in the Validation Notice?

The FDCPA recognizes a debt collector as a person or company that collects mostly past-due debts owed to others. They include lawyers and collection agencies that collect debts as part of their business operation.

Some companies buy past-due debts and then attempt to collect the debts for themselves. We also know them as debt collection agencies or debt collection companies, as well as debt buyers. This is important, because you might not immediately know who the original creditor is.

Ultimately, the validation notice is intended to help consumers identify if the debt is theirs. It must also provide information about consumer protections available to the alleged debtor.

Information that must be included on validation notices includes details about:

  • The person or company sending the notice that must reveal they are a debt collector.
  • Names and mailing information of the debt collector and the consumer.
  • Name of the creditor. There may be more than one creditor, and the original creditor may not be identified.
  • An account number that is associated with the debt, if there is one.
  • The debt, including the current amount owing and itemized figures that reflect payments, credits, interest, fees, and so on.
  • The consumer’s right to dispute the debt and request information about the original creditor.
  • How to dispute the debt.

Additionally, the notice must include a form that you can tear off and return to the debt collector if you want to dispute the debt or take any other action.

When Must a Debt Collector Supply a Collection Validation Notice?

If a debt collector doesn’t provide the required validation information when contacting a consumer about a debt for the first time, he or she will need to send a validation notice within five days of that initial communication. It must be a written notice and it can be delivered electronically.

The FDCPA defines all consumers as natural persons who are obligated (or allegedly obligated) to pay consumer debts. The CFPB Debt Collection Rule interprets this definition to include deceased consumers. As long as the person wasn’t provided with a validation notice before death, debt collectors must send the validation notice to the individual or individuals who are trying to resolve the status of outstanding debts.

According to the CFPB, the process is the same if the consumer who is allegedly obligated to pay a debt is deceased.

Can I Dispute the Debt?

Yes you can, but you need to do this within a specified “validation period” or the debt collector can assume that the debt is valid. While the FDCPA states that consumers have 30 days to dispute debts or ask for validation of the debt, the CFPB adds a further five business days to the validation period. They call this the validation period’s “five-day delivery timing assumption.”

In its Rules for FDCPA Debt Collectors, the CFPB defines the validation period as “the period starting on the date that a debt collector provides the validation information required” and “ending 30 days after the consumer receives or is assumed to receive the validation information.” Additionally, debt collectors are advised to “assume that a consumer receives the validation information on any date that is at least five days (excluding legal public holidays identified in 5 U.S.C. 6103(a), Saturdays, and Sundays) after the debt collector provides it.”

If you decide to dispute a debt, you must do so in writing, using the form supplied with the validation notice. At this stage, the debt collector must provide you with verification of the debt before continuing with collection.

What Can You Do if a Debt Collector Breaks the Rules?

Sometimes debt collectors may not send you a validation notice that contains the required information. And they may not follow the rules regarding disputes and related issues. If this happens to you, contact Lemberg Law to see how we can help.

You can call and set up a free consultation at 475-277-1600 or submit a request via our contact form.

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