Skip to main content

How to Respond to a Debt Collection Letter and What to Include in a Debt Validation Letter

Katie Wheat is a consumer who was sued by debt buyers and has been researching debt collection laws for over 10 years.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, many consumers default on their debts. As a result, they will be contacted by debt collectors.

Thankfully, there are consumer protection laws that aid those consumers. One of those laws is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Anyone who has received a debt collection letter should read the Act.

I am not an attorney, but I am a consumer. Due to my past experiences, I have been researching the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other consumer protection statutes for 10 years.

The following article is not based on my opinion. It is based upon the language of the FDCPA and court rulings.

In the case that I cannot provide court rulings to support what I have stated, I will not merely assume that my opinion is valid. I will state that I have been unable to locate a ruling to support my claim. If you have any questions, please ask, and I will respond.

I am also open to a friendly, respectful debate. Debate enables us to learn. As long as it is respectful and claims are supported by law, I believe debate would serve a useful purpose.

There are consumer protection laws that aid those consumers. One of those laws is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Anyone who has received a debt collection letter should read the Act.

There are consumer protection laws that aid those consumers. One of those laws is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Anyone who has received a debt collection letter should read the Act.

What's required in a debt collection letter, and how long you have to respond to it

You defaulted on a debt and have received a debt collection letter from a collection agency.

This letter is important. Do not ignore it.

The first collection letter you receive from a collection agency should include a validation notice. United States Code of Law, 15 U.S.C. § 1692g governs validation notices and requirements.

§11692g(a) states that within 5 days of an intial communication, a debt collector must provide a consumer a written notice containing (1) the amount of the debt, (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed, (3) that the debt collector can assume a debt to be valid if the consumer does not dispute the debt within 30 days after receiving the notice, (4) a statement that the debt collector must verify the debt if the consumer requests validation within 30 days of receiving the 30-day notice and (5) a statement that a consumer can request the name and address of the original creditor, if it's different from the current creditor.

In the event you receive a collection letter from a debt buyer who has purchased your debt, that debt buyer is considered the "current creditor". That is due to the fact that the creditor with whom you opened the account charged off and sold your account to the debt buyer.

The very first line references an "initial communication". That means the first communication. If the first communication is a letter, pay attention to what should be included in the letter. It should include the information referenced in (1) - (5) of the above-referenced section of the FDCPA.

And pay close attention to (3). If you choose to request validation of the debt, you MUST do so within 30 days of receiving the letter that contains that notice. That does not mean 30 days from the date the letter was written. That time limit is based upon the date you RECEIVE the letter in the mail.

Here is some help if you have been sued for a credit card debt

  • It is always best to hire an attorney if you are facing a lawsuit. If you cannot afford an attorney and do not qualify for legal aid, there are sites available to help you.
  • Please do not spend your hard-earned money on books for sale on the internet whose authors claim to know how to fight debt-collection lawsuits. You don’t know for a fact that the claims made by the authors of those books ate true.
  • In addition, those books do not offer any more information that you can find for free on reputable websites. Reputable websites are populated with members across the country who can guide you, help you find the information you need, and won”t charge you a penny.
Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

If you have received a summons and complaint about a credit card debt, I recommend the following two websites.

Things you don't need to include in a request for validation

Here is a list of items that some sites suggest consumers include in a debt validation request.

  • What the money you say I owe is for;
  • Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;
  • Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe;
  • Prove the Statute of Limitations has not expired on this account;
  • Show me that you are licensed to collect in my state;
  • Provide me with your license numbers and Registered Agent;

Those items are not required to validate a debt. Debt collectors do not have to provide a detailed accounting, proof that the statute of limitations has expired, or proof of license to collect a debt in your state.

Some Circuit Courts of Appeals have ruled on the issue of debt validation/verification.

"Contrary to Appellants' contention, verification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed; the debt collector is not required to keep detailed files of the alleged debt. There is no concomitant obligation to forward copies of bills or other detailed evidence of the debt." Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 406 (4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1999).

"We agree with the district court that '[v]erification only requires a debt collector to confirm with his client that a particular amount is actually being claimed, not to vouch for the validity of the underlying debt.'" Chaudhry at 406.

"We adopt as a baseline the more reasonable standard articulated by the Fourth Circuit in Chaudhry. At the minimum, 'verification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed.'" Clark v. Capital Credit & Collection Services Inc., 460 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir.2006).

"This provision is not intended to give a debtor a detailed accounting of debt to be collected." Maynard v. Cannon, 401 F. App’x 389, 396 (10th Cir. 2010).

"We thus join other circuits in holding that the statute requires 'nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed.'" Walton v. EOS CCA, 885 F.3d 1024, 1028 (7th Cir. 2018)(see Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 406 (4th Cir. 1999); Clark v. Capital Credit & Collection Servs., Inc., 460 F.3d 1162, 1173-74 (9th Cir. 2006).

Here are some lower federal court rulings.

"Plaintiff's dispute letter to Midland requests 'a copy of the contract which proves the amount of the alleged high balance which you are claiming. If you do not have a contract, then please provide specific and detailed alternate proof of the alleged high balance.' Again, the FDCPA does not require that Midland comply with this request. Instead, the statute simply requires a debt collector to confirm the amount of the debt and the identity of the creditor, and relay that information to the debtor." Myers v. Midland Credit Management, Inc. Slip Copy, 2014 WL 981311 (M.D.Pa.,2014).

"Furthermore, Himes's belief that validation requires disclosure of the signed loan agreement, a sworn accounting ledger, and affidavits attesting to the current status and validity of the debt grossly overstates a debt collector's obligations under the FDCPA. To sufficiently validate a debt, the debt collector need only demonstrate that the creditor has provided some evidence that the debtor owes the specific amount demanded; a credit card statement indicating the delinquent balance serves that purpose." Himes v. Client Servs. Inc., No. 12-321, 990 F.Supp.2d 59, 2014 WL 24258, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125 (D.N.H. Jan. 2, 2014).

"Therefore, to sufficiently validate a debt, the debt collector need only demonstrate that the creditor has provided some evidence that the debtor owes the specific amount demanded. Here, the credit card statements provided by Schiff indicating the delinquent balance serve that purpose." Glowacki v. Law Offices of Howard Lee Schiff, P.C., No. 1:13-cv-11306-RGS, 2014 WL 2547919, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77194 (D.Mass. June 5, 2014).

There are those that will tell you that sending a detailed letter containing various requests informs a debt collector that you know your rights.That is incorrect.

There are those that will tell you that sending a detailed letter containing various requests informs a debt collector that you know your rights.That is incorrect.

Misconceptions about debt validation

Unfortunately, some sites that recommend consumers send a detailed letter requesting documentation and information that a debt collector is not required to provide in order to validate a debt. While a consumer can request anything he chooses, a debt collector does not have to provide anything more than what the law requires.

The FDCPA does not require a consumer to request a laundry list of documentation. It merely requires the consumer to state that the debt is disputed and validation is requested.

There are those that will tell you that sending a detailed letter containing various requests informs a debt collector that you know your rights. That is incorrect. Requesting information that is not required informs a debt collector that you do not know your rights.

If you know your rights, would you request information that is not required by law? No. Anyone who advises you that a debt collector must provide certain information when that information is not required by law proves that the person has not researched the law.

The FDCPA does not require a debt collector to provide a copy of a debt collection license in order to validate a debt

Federal law does not require a debt collector to be licensed to collect a debt. That's a state issue. Some states require a debt collection license while others do not.

As a result, the FDPCA (which is a federal law) cannot require a debt collector to provide proof of licensing when your state has no such law. In the event your state does have that requirement, it does not mean that proof of licensure is necessary to validate a debt.

To date, NO court has ruled that proof of a collection license is required to validate a debt.

Do not include threats in a validation request

Do not include a "threat" in your request for validation.