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The formal terms for this process are “debt verification” or “debt validation.” A consumer should, as a matter of course, validate a debt when a collection agent attempts to collect the debt. Just because a voice on the telephone claims someone owes the collection agent money does not necessarily mean the collection agent has the right to collect the debt, or that the debt is even owed. Collection agents cannot validate 64% of the accounts 6 years of age or older.
Overall, the debt industry can validate about half of all accounts (The Structure and Practices of the Debt Buying Industry (PDF)).
The US Supreme Court has made no decision in this area.
Therefore, in states in the US Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts, collection agent must provide two or three pieces of data in writing when a consumer asks for a debt validation: It is unclear if the other circuit courts would require a collection agent to provide the dates the debts were incurred, or an itemization of the collectors’ added charges, which is what the FTC has recommended Congress add to the FDCPA.
If you live in one of the other nine circuits, then you can argue the collection agent must follow the statute, and not the standards set by the Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts.
Collection agents must cease their collections activities when they receive a verification notice.
Be sure to send this letter within 30 days of receiving notice of the attempted collection. Repeat this process if the collection agent sells the collection account in question to a different collection agent.
A collection agent may continue their collection activities, including filing a lawsuit against the consumer.