The topic can be found in The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809, in which it is stated that:
a. Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer, in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall send the consumer a written notice containing the following, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt.
1.The total amount of the debt;
2.The creditor’s name, to whom the debt is owed;
3.A statement saying that the debt will be assumed valid by the debt collector, unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt.
4.A statement that if the debt collector is notified by the consumer, in writing, within the thirty-day period that the debt is disputed, the debt collector will have to obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer. The debt collector will also mail a copy of such verification or judgment to the consumer.
5.A statement that, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period.
The debt collector should cease the collection process
b.If the debt collector is notified by the consumer in writing, within the thirty-day period, as described above in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector is bound to cease the collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
The Essence of the Issue
In layman terms, the above-mentioned things mean that if you write a letter to the collection agency, disputing their claim within 30 days of receiving their initial letter, they must show you written proof that you owe the mentioned debt(s). And for the proof to be legitimate, they must include the following:
A copy of the original signed credit card application or financing agreement
Account statements from the original creditor
Some proof that the mentioned collection agency has been assigned to the debt
Send a letter to the Credit Bureaus
You should also send a letter to the credit bureaus, disputing the information involved in the collection account. In case the collection agency fails to write back within 30 days, but you do get a letter from the credit bureaus saying the debt it verified, you have the authority to send another letter to the credit bureaus claiming the collection agency did not respond to your request for debt validation, and thus has not complied with the FDCPA.
Most probably, the credit bureaus will remove the collection account when this happens, as you failed to receive validation of debt despite the credit bureau reporting it as verified.
Threaten with a lawsuit if they don’t cooperate
But if they don’t cooperate, you can write a new letter threatening them to file a lawsuit for willful non-compliance. Of course you don’t want to go that far, especially if it’s not a large amount or too damaging to your credit. But it should speed things up.
It is also possible that the collection agency is attentive and gets the material you ask for in a timely fashion. If they validate the debt, you won’t have much options left and will have to pay the debt or risk a charge-off or potentially a lawsuit.
It is important to carefully put aside all the original documents you use to state your case. And it is better to be careful when you approach both the debt collectors and the credit bureaus. If you are unfamiliar with the law, it would be wise to seek legal help before pursuing a lawsuit.