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Debt Validation Finally Defined. What You Should Ask a Collector or Creditor for to Validate a Debt.

So much stuff has been written advising people to get their debts validated. I’ve asked professionals and lawyers all over for a definition of what this actually means and until now, nobody really knew.

Was validation of a debt achieved if the lender simply acknowledged an account was present or did it require documentation of all transactions in the account? Who knew?

On March 2, 2012 the State of Massachusetts issued new guidance for debt collectors and original creditors. Buried in these rules is a section on the validation of debts that can serve as a guide on what it really means to validate a debt.

Here is what the state says the validation of debts is.

Validation of Debts

  1. It shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice for a creditor to fail to provide to a debtor or an attorney for a debtor the following, within five business days after the initial communication with a debtor in connection with the collection of a debt, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the debtor has paid the debt:
    • The amount of the debt;
    • The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
    • A statement that unless the debtor, within 30 days after receipt of this notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the creditor; and
    • A statement that if the debtor notifies the creditor in writing within 30 days after receipt of this notice that the debt, or any portion thereof is disputed, the creditor will obtain verification of the debt and provide the debtor, or any attorney for the debtor, additional materials described in subsection (2) of this section.
  2. If the debtor, or any attorney for the debtor, notifies the creditor in writing within the 30-day period described in subsection (1) of this section, that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the creditor shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the creditor verifies the debt and provides the debtor, or any attorney of the debtor, by first class mail, the following materials:
    • All documents, including electronic records or images, which bear the signature of the debtor and which concern the debt being collected;
    • A ledger, account card, account statement copy, or similar record, whether paper or electronic, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances, and charges concerning the debt, including but not limited to interest, fees, charges or expenses incidental to the principal obligation which the creditor is expressly authorized to collect by the agreement creating the debt or permitted to collect by law;
    • The name and address of the original creditor, if different from the collecting creditor; and
    • A copy of any judgment against the debtor.

Pursuant to this section, the creditor must provide those materials described in subsection (2)(a) through (d) which are in the possession, custody or control of the creditor. If the creditor does not possess, have custody of, or control the materials described in subsections (2)(a) through (d), the creditor shall cease collection of the debt until the creditor has made reasonable efforts to obtain the necessary information and provide this information to the debtor.

Finally, Some Clear Guidance on Validating Debts

For me the most important section is the one that defines exactly what information is needed to provide a validation of the debts. Let’s look at that in a bit more details.

Required to Validate a Debt

All documents, including electronic records or images, which bear the signature of the debtor and which concern the debt being collected;

A ledger, account card, account statement copy, or similar record, whether paper or electronic, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits, balances, and charges concerning the debt, including but not limited to interest, fees, charges or expenses incidental to the principal obligation which the creditor is expressly authorized to collect by the agreement creating the debt or permitted to collect by law;

That’s a fairly extensive list of documentation required by the State of Massachusetts but it is not unreasonable to expect a creditor should be able to provide you with this information.

It is important to note that if a creditor is trying to collect on a debt you believe is not valid then you must immediately write to the creditor, or collector and dispute the validity of the debt. You must do this within 30 days of being initially contacted.

You should send your letter by some traceable means so you have proof of delivery and the signature of someone who signed for the notification. You can do this through the post office by sending the letter certified mail and return receipt requested. It’s probably the least expensive way to accomplish this goal.

You don’t need to write a fancy letter, just write a letter saying you dispute the validity of the debt and you would like the collector to provide the following items:

  • A copy of all documents which bear your signature.
  • A detailed account statement that shows the dates of all payments, balances, and charges.
  • Evidence of how the amount due was calculated.
  • Any additional fees or charges that have been added to your account on top of the balance due.

If you would like to see a sample debt validation letter then read How to Dispute and Ask a Debt Collector to Validate a Debt.

If you happen to live in Massachusetts you can reference 940 CMR 7.00: Debt Collection Regulations statute.

If the creditor or debt collector cannot provide you with the requested documentation to prove the account and amount are true and accurate then take a copy of this article and the response from the collector or creditor to a local attorney and ask them to step in.

Debt Validation Finally Defined. What You Should Ask a Collector or Creditor for to Validate a Debt.
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • David

    After requesting Validation of a debt from a debt collector, they sent me a copy of a note with my name on it, but no signature. After questioning this I never heard back from them again, and they transferred the “debt” to a different debt collector. However, the original debt collector is continuing to report negatively on my credit report. What should I do?

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Dispute it with the credit bureau and provide proof they could not validate it.

  • Randy

    Just so you know AES does not recognize the FDCPA laws. Debt Validation doesn’t work, trust me I have tried with no success.

  • ND

    I live in Georgia. I obtained a student loan for helicopter school which filed bankruptcy and was actually a ponzi scheme. There were 3200 students nationwide. Most of the students received loans from Student Loan Xpress “serviced” by American Education Services. it went to litigation and a settlement made. My loan was given a 75% forgiveness. It went from almost $80,000 to $23,000. Given that this was a ponzi scheme and, I as well as others, never received any certifications, we are fighting paying this. Student loans are not dismissable in bankruptcy, and we are stuck paying it. However, since the settlement with SLX, they have sold the loan to another company.  We were only sent a letter from AES with a name (intials only) and no address of the company that owns the loan and AES is still “servicing the loans”. Since the sale of the loan to the new company, all information about this loan has been removed from my credit report (all 3 credit reporting agencies included). This was previoulsy on my credit reports. Can I send validation letters to new owner of loan IF I can find out who the company actually is? Do I need to request the transfer of ownership documents as well as my original signed contract, statements, and payment history?

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Requesting them to validate as much detail as possible and produce original documents is a good approach.

      You made one statement that isn’t true however. Private student loans past the statute of limitations are dischargeable in bankruptcy. Might be worth talking to a local bankruptcy attorney about your specific situation.

      Steve

  • Terryscholtes

    I actually called the creditor after I saw this on my report and they said they had no information on the account and suggested I dispute it with credit bureaus which i did. Just got a notice from bureaus that is was verified.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Find an attorney that is licensed in your state with experience in Fair Credit Reporting Act issues.

  • Terryscholtes

    I had a car loan some time ago and paid it off. I recall that after my last payment they sent me a note saying I still owed $205.00. May payments were $402.00 per month for 60 months. I asked at the time if they would send me an accounting of the charge. When I received it I matched all payments with their charges. They could not tell me what it was for. The problem was I had to pay it in order to get the title to my car, so I did. I just noticed on my credit report they are saying I made the payment late and worse is, they show the account was charged off. I mean it was the next month after I made my last payment even by their records. Can I make them prove they actually charged this off or what should I do?

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Start with writing a letter to the credit bureaus that are reporting that information and disputing it as untrue.

  • T H

    As to update, I did get a call from Allied Interstate on an old paid off credit card debt. I told them who and when was handling. I asked to validate the debt. (Cortrust bank orig debtor). Then I receivd from the sister company called Resurgent Capital services. These companies work with LVNV Funding LLC.

    LVNV funding had taken over Arrow financial services and sveral other debt collection compnay. They send out thru allied interstate on old debt listed and possibly NOT UPDATED after paying off the old debt.
    Good thing I kept all my old files that I had paid off thru settlemnt offers. My debt was settled and closed with satisfaction from the Northland group. Northland helped me to get the final release letter within 10 days.

    Be wary everyone .. There r many new LLC debt buying company looking to make a buck. It can b agonizing. Keep your paid off accts files for another 7 yrs, just in case. U get called.

    Review your credit report as well.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Good advice. I agree, paid off settlement documentation should be kept forever with your other important papers.

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