A debt validation letter is a document you send to a collector to verify a debt. Under federal law, you have a right to get information about any debt you supposedly owe. The law provides a way to send this letter back to verify the debt collection agency and determine whether it has a legitimate claim.
When you send the letter to the debt collector, they must provide evidence of their claim. If the debt collector fails to respond or provide proper evidence, you may be able to dispute the validity of the debt letter. Understanding this process can help you understand how to respond to a debt collection letter.
What Is a Debt Validation Letter?
A debt validation letter is a document that asks the collector to verify the debt and their authority to collect on it. Many debts are sold and resold to various parties, and accurate records are needed to establish the debt collector’s rights. These records must also show that you owe the debt.
Before you pay a penny to a collector, you’ll want to confirm that the debt belongs to you. A debt collection company’s records can be inaccurate. You may be charged for a debt that isn’t yours. Even if it is, it may be:
- An incorrect amount
- Past the statute of limitations for debt collection
- Due to an invalid judgment against you
- Based on fraud or other illegal conduct
Federal law and debt validation letters
The US code requires the validation of debts by collection agencies  . Within five days of the initial communication with the consumer about the debt, the debt collector must provide a written notice that contains:
- The amount of the alleged debt
- The name of the creditor who claims they are owed the debt amount
- A statement that the consumer must dispute the validity of the debt within 30 days, or it will be assumed as valid by the debt collector
- A statement that if you notify the debt collector within those 30 days, the collector must obtain verification of the debt or a copy of the judgment that establishes the debt and mail it to the consumer
- A statement that upon your request within the 30-day time frame, the debt collector will provide the name and address of the original creditor for the debt if it’s different from the current creditor
If the initial communication from the debt collector contained all of this information already, they are not required to send a separate letter.
When Is a Debt Validation Letter Needed?
You should send back a debt validation letter any time you receive a debt collection notice. Even if you think you owe this amount, it’s essential to confirm it. You should also send a debt validation letter if you have any doubts about your allegedly owed debt. It may turn out that:
- The wrong creditor may be seeking the money
- It could be a scam.
- The owed amount is incorrect.
- You don’t owe any money.
A debt validation letter is an easy way to protect your financial rights. It forces the creditor to do their due diligence and make sure there are no mistakes. If you want to know how to verify a debt collector, sending a debt validation letter is a great way to protect yourself from fraud.
When to send the debt validation letter
Federal law requires that you send a debt validation letter within 30 days of the initial communication from the debt collector. An initial communication is the first time a creditor contacts you, whether this is by phone, a letter, or another method  .
If you fail to send the debt validation letter within this period, the creditor doesn’t have to respond to your requests for validation in the future. They can then proceed with the assumption that the debt is valid.
The Most Common Situations for Using This Document
A debt validation letter is commonly used to verify debts related to:
- Medical bills
- Payments on a mortgage or note
- Car payments
- Actions by banks
- Back taxes collection
- Collection of judgments in a court case
What if a debt collector cannot validate the debt letter?
If a debt collector or collection agency failed to validate the debt letter then any further collections are invalid. Any future collection efforts would violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This federal law governs how debt collectors may act and prohibits unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices. Violations of this act can result in severe repercussions and fines for the debt collector  .
If they fail to respond, the debt collector must cease all activities against you, including but not limited to:
- Calling you
- Mailing you
- Reporting the debt on your credit report
- Filing a legal claim against you
What do I do if the debt is valid?
If the debt is valid, you want to ensure it’s not past the statute of limitations, which limits how long a creditor can wait to collect a debt. These time limits vary by state and will likely require an attorney to give a definitive answer.
If you believe the debt is owed and valid, you can choose to:
- Pay the debt and release the claim
- Negotiate a settlement for less than the full balance
- Set up a payment plan with the creditor
How To Write a Debt Validation Letter
Step 1 – Fill in Basic Information
The first step in writing a debt validation letter is filling in your basic information. This includes your name and contact information such as your email address, phone number, and home address.
You should also fill in the basic information of the debt collector, including their name and contact information.
Then state the method of communication the debt collector used to contact you:
- By mail
- By phone
- By e-mail
- By text message
- Via social media
According to a rule passed by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2021, a debt collector can contact a consumer via social media about a debt if and only if:
- the message is private,
- the collector identifies himself/herself, and
- the collector gives you a way to stop receiving messages from him/her (i.e., block).
Lastly, provide the date and time the debt collector contacted you.
Step 2 – Provide Information on Alleged Debt
Specify the type of alleged debt in your letter:
- Credit card debt
- Utility bills
- Health care debt
- Rental debt
- Home loans
- Student loan debt
- Car and other vehicle loans
- Car title loans
- Internet loans
- Payday and cash advance loans
- Retail debt
If possible, you should also provide the account number associated with the debt.
Can I send a Debt Validation Letter for business debts?
The FDCPA (of which a Debt Validation Letter is applied) only covers debts incurred by an individual consumer but not business or corporation debts.
For more information on regulations regarding business debt collection, please see Commercial Collection Agencies of America Agency (CCAA) – Member Code of Ethics.
When you want to validate the debt, you should request the kind of information you would like the debt collector to verify:
- Creditor’s name and full address
- Name of the debtor of record
- Full account number of debt
- Amount of debt
- Due date of the debt
- Original charge-off or delinquency date
- Explanation of how the debt was calculated
- Evidence that the debt is within the State’s applicable statute of limitation
- Name of a collection agency or owner of the debt, if applicable
- Amount paid if the debt was purchased
- Completed and executed agreement, including signature pages, for the debt
Step 3 – Fill in the Final Details
Decide whether you would like to send the letter via certified mail. It is highly recommended to send the document via certified mail to easily request a return receipt to prove that the collector has received the letter.
Finally, state when you completed the debt validation letter and signed the document.
What Should Be Included in the Debt Validation Letter?
A debt validation letter should at least ask for the information that creditors are legally obligated to answer. A comprehensive debt validation letter seeks additional information that can help inform you about the alleged debt and help protect your legal rights.
The letter should include all of the following to ensure you get the information you need from the debt collector.
Date of initial communication
Your validation letter should include the date of initial communication with the debt collector. For example, if you receive a phone call on May 1, 2022, you should note that in the letter.
This establishes key legal responsibilities for the debt collector. It also helps to establish that you are filing your letter within the correct time frame.
A statement that you seek validation of the debt
The validation letter should include a statement that you request the debt validation. Our debt validation letter template contains the type of statement you need.
Never admit to owing the debt, even if you think you might. The validation letter aims to confirm the debt, but admitting to owing it could impact you later.
Account number or identifying information
If the debt collector’s initial communication references an account number or other identifying information, include this in your debt validation letter. This helps force the collector to provide specific information about your alleged debt.
Name and address of the original creditor
Debts are sold and resold to different collection agencies. To verify the debt, you need to know who the original creditor was. This can help verify if the debt is valid.
This should include a last billing statement from the original creditor and an explanation of any interest added or payments made. It should also include the date the original creditor claimed the debt became delinquent.
Explanation of the amount owed
The creditor must include the amount owed for the alleged debt. They must also include information that justifies why this particular amount is owed to the creditor.
Verification of valid basis for the debt
The letter should ask the creditor to include the basis for the debt, i.e., how the debt was incurred and why the collector is permitted to collect on it. It could help save you from paying an invalid debt you don’t legitimately owe.
Statute of limitations
The validation letter should include a request for the collector to explain if the debt is still within the applicable statute of limitations. The debt collector cannot collect the debt when a statute of limitations passes. The letter should seek information on how the collector determined the limitations date and whether the debt is still within that time frame.
Many collectors try to collect old debts, many past the statute of limitations, hoping you’ll simply pay the bill without knowing your rights. The debt validation letter forces the collector to inform you about the statute of limitations in your particular situation.
Authority to collect the debt
The letter should include a request to the collector to explain why they have the authority to collect the debt. This is especially important when the collector is not the original creditor.
Many debt collection companies buy the right to collect a judgment from other creditors. Often, their records that justify this right are incomplete or inaccurate. This may negate their legal authority to pursue the debt collection against you.
Whether the debt collector is licensed within your state
Most debt collectors must be licensed within their state or your state. You should request verifying information about this license, such as:
- The date of the license
- The name on the license
- The license number
- The name, address, and phone number of the state agency that issued the license
Debt Validation Letter Template
You can use the LegalTemplates builder to create a validation letter or a template to create a debt validation letter in PDF and Word formats.
Debt Validation Letter Frequently Asked Questions
How long must a creditor respond to a debt validation letter?
Federal law doesn’t set a time limit for the creditor to respond to a debt validation letter. Many creditors will reply within a few weeks or months, but it could take longer. However, until they respond, they aren’t permitted to continue with debt collection efforts. Continued collection efforts may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
What if the creditor doesn’t respond to my debt validation letter?
If the creditor doesn’t respond to your debt validation letter, the debt isn’t valid until they do. There’s no time limit to respond, so a proper response later could revive the debt if it doesn’t exceed the statute of limitations.
How do I prove the collector received my debt validation letter?
You should send the debt validation letter via certified mail. This is a service provided by the U.S. Postal Service that sends a mailing receipt to the debt collector. They must sign the form, proving that the postman delivered the letter. You can also request a return receipt service to receive notification that the debt collector accepted the letter.