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Debt Validation: Should you help provide proof a debt is owed

When a debt collector asks you to provide proof you owe a debt, don't. It defeats the purpose of the debt validation process.

Question: Sent debt validation letter to third party debt collector. Account was charged off. Instead I got an answer from the original creditor with no backup only date account was opened and amount. Original creditor asking for proof. Any suggestions.

First, you do not provide debt validation. It’s not your responsibility to provide documentation that you owe a debt. An exception to that is if you have documentation to support the debt is not legitimate. You can make a 2nd request to the debt collector for additional documents such as an original signed contract or itemized accounting of the amount claimed to be owed, including all fees and charges and how those fees and charges were determined.

Second, debt validation typically only applies to debt collectors, not to original creditors. Original creditors are not required to send anything. While debt validation is a powerful tool for consumers, it can take additional effort to enforce when a debt collector refuses to comply with adequate documentation.

When you respond to a debt collector with a validation request within the 30-day time period, it grants a “stay”, for lack of a better word, from actively collecting the debt. The main problem with debt validation is lack of enforcement.

Because there is no strict enforcement that debt collectors respond to debt validation, not responding or responding with little information holds no consequence for debt collectors. An exception to that would be if you lived in a state with enhanced debt collection laws.
Some states have additional debt collection laws enacted to protect consumers. California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas currently have enhanced debt collections intended to provide protections beyond what is currently required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Check with your state to see what if they have any additional debt collection laws that address debt verification.

It can be correctly interpreted that a lack of response means the debt collector must cease collection efforts, presuming validation was timely requested by the consumer.

If the debt collector continues collection efforts without providing adequate validation; or, if you disagree with the documents provided to you, it is up to you to file a civil action asserting the debt collector’s violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Essentially debt validation does not mandate a response from the debt collector unless you are willing to pursue legal action. However, there are some actions you can take before you get to the court system. Make complaints to the following:

1. Better Business Bureau
2. State Attorney General
3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Making complaints can work to your advantage in that you become a nuisance, costing the debt collector time and money to pursue the debt. But it’s up to you to keep up the pressure. Just keep in mind within the statute of limitations, you can be sued for the outstanding debt.


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