Failure to validate a debt is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and you could be entitled to compensation.

Collection notices by phone, mail or 3rd party can be unsettling and cause some people to panic because they do not know their fair debt collection rights. Bill collectors are required to validate debts before continuing collection efforts according to section 809 of the FDCPA. This page explains how debt collectors can notify you and what types of notifications are legal and illegal.

  1. Collectors must validate debt within 5 days – 809(a)
  2. Who must provide validation notice – 809(a)1
  3. Only a single notice is required – 809(a)2.
  4. Notice forms or letters – 809(a)3
  5. Use of alternate debt terminology in notice – 809(a)4
  6. Oral notices vs. written notices – 809(a)5.
  7. Legal action notice vs. validation notices – 809(a)6
  8. When attorneys must provide validation notice – 809(a)7
  9. Validation / Proof is required if debt is disputed – 809(a)
  10. Collectors must cease collection while debts are disputed – 809(b)
  11. Failure to dispute a debt is NOT an admission of liability – 809(c).

1. Section 809(a) requires a collector, within 5 days of the first communication, to provide the consumer a written notice (if not provided in that communication) containing

(1) the amount of the debt and

(2) the name of the creditor, along with a statement that he will

(3) assume the debt’s validity unless the consumer disputes it within 30 days,

(4) send a verification or copy of the judgment if the consumer timely disputes the debt, and

(5) identify the original creditor on written request.

2. Who must provide notice.

If the employer’s debt collection agent gives the required notice, employee debt collectors need not also provide it. A debt collector’s agent may give the notice, as long as it is clear that the information is being provided on behalf of the debt collector.

3. Single notice required.

The debt collector is not required to provide more than one notice for each debt. A notice need not offer to identify the original creditor unless the name and address of the original creditor are different from the current creditor.

4. Notice Forms

The FDCPA imposes no requirements as to the form, sequence, location, or type size of the notice. However, an illegible notice does not comply with this provision.

5. Alternate terminology.

A debt collector may condense and combine the required disclosures, as long as he provides all required information.

6. Oral notice.

If a debt collector’s first communication with the consumer is oral, he may make the disclosures orally at that time in which case he need not send a written notice.

7. Legal action.

A debt collector’s institution of formal legal action against a consumer (including the filing of a complaint or service of legal papers by an attorney in connection with a lawsuit to collect a debt) or transmission of a notice to a consumer that is required by law as a prerequisite to enforcing a contractual obligation is not a “communication in connection with collection of any debt,” and thus does not confer section 809 notice-and-validation rights on the consumer.

8. Collection activities by attorneys.

An attorney who regularly attempts to collect debts by means other than litigation, such as writing the consumer demand letters (dunning notices) or calling the consumer on the phone about the obligation (except in response to a consumer’s call to him after suit has been commenced), must provide the required notice, even if a previous debt collector (or creditor) has given such a notice.

9. Effect of including proof with first notice.

A debt collector must verify a disputed debt even if he has included proof of the debt with the first communication, because the section is intended to assist the consumer when a debt collector inadvertently contacts the [53 Fed. Reg. 50109] wrong consumer at the start of his collection efforts.

10. Section 809(b) requires that, if the consumer disputes the debt or requests identification of the original creditor in writing, the collector must cease collection efforts until he verifies the debt and mails a response.

11. Section 809(c) states that a consumer’s failure to dispute the validity of a debt under this section may not be interpreted by a court as an admission of liability.

1. Pre-notice collection. A debt collector need not cease normal collection activities within the consumer’s 30-day period to give notice of a dispute until he receives a notice from the consumer.

An attorney debt collector may take legal action within 30 days of sending the notice, regardless of whether the consumer disputes the debt.

If the consumer disputes the debt, the attorney may still take legal action but must cease collection efforts until verification is obtained and mailed to the consumer.

A debt collector may report a debt to a credit bureau within the 30-day notice period, before he receives a request for validation or a dispute notice from the consumer.

If your creditors are not validating your debts, submit your information to a FREE* Fair Debt Lawyer by clicking here for a FREE* Fair Debt Case Review or calling toll free 888-FDCPA-LAW. The debt collector may just be liable to you for statutory damages of to $1,000, plus any actual damages suffered, plus attorney fees!

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