What can you do if a collector sends you a letter in the mail? Don’t run!

September 6, 2011 by The ME Law Firm

Most Americans are unfortunately familiar with receiving letters, bills, or phone calls from debt collectors.  It is not a pleasant experience, but you should be aware of the rights you have as a consumer.

First, it is important to respond to the debt collector.  If you don’t respond to the initial collections letter requesting payment within 30 days, the debt is presumed valid.  Most consumers do not respond, and therefore do not preserve their rights to dispute the debt.

One good way to respond to the debt collector is to request validation of the debt.  Requesting validation is simply requesting proof of the debt and is every consumer’s right.  The request requires the debt collector to respond in a specific way.  It also requires the collector to research your account and provide you with all requested information.

Requirements of the collector’s response depend on your unique situation and the type of validation requested by you.   For example, if you dispute the amount of the debt, they must specifically verify that amount.  If you dispute the balance of the debt, the collector must provide detailed monthly statements to show what you have already paid and what you still owe.  In discussing these validation requirements, Congress listed the following as a basic framework for the collector’s response: a statement including itemization of the amount of the debt; verification of the consumer/debtor’s name; a statement that the debt has not been paid; and a statement that the creditor either delivered a product or service in exchange for the debt.  Simply providing the debtor with a copy of the original signed contract is generally not sufficient to constitute a validation of the debt.

Finally, if you request validation, the collector is NOT allowed to initiate or actively pursue a lawsuit against you to recover the debt until after they have provided validation.  So, requesting validation is important to halt creditor action against you.

If you are currently facing debt collection, whether it is for a mortgage, credit cards, or any other consumer debt, you should respond to the creditor as soon as possible, preferably by requesting validation of your debt.  Whether you would like to request validation of your debt, or have already done so, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ensure that the creditors are complying with the necessary requirements.  If the creditors do not comply, there may be remedies available to you.

If you would like to speak with an attorney at no cost, please call Myers & Eichelberger at 1-888-ME-HELP-YOU.

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