Saturday, April 12, 2014

How To Write A Validation Letter

I get a LOT of emails asking how to write a validation letter so I'm going to try to explain it again here.  Validation letters are NOT sent to Original Creditors.  Validation letters are NOT sent to Credit Bureaus.   They are ONLY sent to 3rd Party Collectors.

When you get a letter from a collection company, the first time you receive one from that company, they should be very clear that you have a right to dispute their claim within 30 days.  This does not mean that they won't be putting it on your credit report or that they haven't already put it on your credit report.  But it does mean that they will have to immediately stop collection activity when they receive your dispute or what we call a Validation letter.

Sometimes you never get that first letter or maybe you did and you ignored it, but you have a copy of your  credit report and you see a collection account on there.  You will want to dispute this with a Validation letter as well.  Even though you may not have disputed within the first 30 days of being notified that this collection company is hot on your trail, or you never knew about it until you saw your credit report, once they get the Validation letter from you, they must stop all collection activity.

A Validation letter is demanding proof that you owe them something.  You have the right to challenge their claim and make them stop collection activity pursuant to the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).  Collection activity can be phone calls where they are pressuring you to pay something, another "bill" saying to pay, and even verifying the alleged debt or updating the alleged debt on your credit report.  They must stop ALL collection activity until they prove the alleged debt is yours.  The only things they are allowed to do at this time are to 1. Prove the alleged debt is yours; 2. Mark the alleged account as "In Dispute" on your credit report; or 3. Send you a letter stating they are closing the file and removing it from your credit report - or similar language to that effect.

A Validation letter should always be sent Certified Mail and preferably with a Return Receipt.  These are some of the things that you will want to keep for your "paper trail" if you end up in court against these suckers.  So, always keep a copy of each letter sent and the certified receipt showing they got your letter. Also, keep every letter they send you. You will be able to find violations they commit and also whether or not they responded and if they sent all the information you demanded in your Validation letter.

Validation letters can be short and to the point, or long and full of laws, or anywhere in between.  The best Validation letters are the ones you write yourself. The worst to use are the ones you find all over the internet or in some book where you said everything they did, word for word.  You want to make the letter your own. Put it in your own words. If you're pissed off and feel like letting them know, well then make sure your letter gets that across to them. I believe its absolutely fine to not be nice in a letter to any collection company. They are ruthless, rude, law breaking  scum, so why would you have to be nice to them?  Write from your heart while you make sure you demand they try to prove their claims.  If that's not you, if you just would  rather be nice or plain matter of fact, that's perfectly okay too.

The letter to them will start off with a Dear Sirs, or To whom it may concern, or some sort of generic salutation. Then you tell them you either received their letter claiming you owe them something or you have a copy of your credit report and saw that they are furnishing information on it that they think you owe them something.  Then you tell them you don't believe you owe them anything and you are disputing their claim and you demand that they stop all collection activity pursuant to the FDCPA.  You don't have to put that its pursuant to anything if you don't want, but whether or not you say that, it is pursuant to the FDCPA and they know it.

Make sure you reference the alleged account number that they assigned to the alleged debt. Now you can tell them what you want them to provide to you.  You definitely want a copy of the alleged contract that shows you agreed to do business with them.  You want a copy of the contract between you and the alleged original creditor. You want a full accounting - meaning, how did they determine how much they claim you owe them.  They usually have added extra charges for interest and collection fees so they need to explain exactly how they got to the amount they are telling you to pay them.

They also need to provide proof that they have a right to collect the alleged debt.  This means they will need to show the contract between them and the original creditor, or whoever they got the alleged account from, and the full chain of assignment. This means, if they are not the first collector claiming you owe this alleged debt, they need to show every single collection company that had it from the original creditor, through every 3rd party scum bag, to them.  Now if you are in a state that requires collection companies to be licensed and/or bonded, they need to provide copies of those items as well.

Another important item that they should be able to provide to you, is the date of the last payment and proof that the alleged account is not outside the Statute of Limitations. If the alleged original account is Time-barred, this is a fantastic way to get rid of them fast.  Some companies don't care and will continue to try to collect and may even sue you on Time-barred debts.  As long as you make no payment to them, make no payment arrangement with them and never admit you owe the alleged debt, it will stay time-barred.  You have to be very, very careful here. In some states, just acknowledging that you ever owed the alleged debt is enough to start the Statute of Limitations clock all over again, so DON'T DO IT! Don't admit Anything - Ever! Don't make a payment to these fools - Ever! Don't agree to a payment plan - Ever!

The next thing I believe you should tell them, and I think its very important to say it in writing, is that under no circumstances do you authorize or give them consent to furnish any information to your credit reports nor to take any action that would result in an inquiry on your credit report from their company. You should tell them this whether they are on your credit report or not.  In order for a company to inquire or furnish information on your credit report, you must give your authorization for them to do so.  Read my previous post, just before this one, so you understand what it takes for them to be able to have anything to do with your credit report.

Now, if they are already furnishing information to your credit report, also demand that they provide a copy of your consent and/or authorization that allows them to furnish or inquire on your credit report. Remind them that without this proof, they must remove all traces of their slander from your credit reports.

You really don't need much more than this in your validation letters. If your want to, you can use case law or the actual laws that give you the right to demand everything you have told them to provide to you, just to give your letter even more weight. You can use something you find on the internet and request the same things those letters say, but again, put it in your own words.  Don't use a form letter and don't copy word for word from those letters. They just don't have as good of an effect or result  as your own letter will have.

Okay, now you've come to the end of your letter. Here is something super important. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sign your name to the letter.  You may type it or print it, or stamp it, but Don't Sign in YOUR Handwriting!  Also, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give them your social security number. And nowhere in your letter at all, NEVER, NEVER, EVER admit that you owe them diddly nor that the alleged original account belongs to you.  

You don't ever want to acknowledge anything other than you received their correspondence and/or you see that they are reporting on your credit reports. They are the ones that should be sending you proof.  You have NO obligation to send them copies of ANYTHING or to disclose anything to them. No copies of old bills, no social security number, no utility bills, no driver's license, no birth date, no whatever they claim you need to send them as proof of anything.  You are not the party needing to prove something - THEY ARE! 

If they are requesting you send them something, it means that they don't have what it takes to even come close to resembling validation. The minute they start asking for you to provide any type of information is time for you to tell them you know they obviously are fraudsters and have no proof of any alleged debt and they need to go pound sand.

So, this is how you write a Validation letter. Hopefully you will craft an excellent one that successfully gets them out of your life and off your credit reports. I'd like to tell you that you will probably be a lot more successful if you can respond to their initial letter within the 30 period. But if you've missed it or never received that "Dunning" notice, don't worry. You still retain your rights, you just need to exercise them and be consistent. Don't accept their claim of validation, don't accept anything other than they are ceasing the game with you and always respond until they give up and go away.

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  1. This is a great blog you have, and I thank you for it. If you have a few minutes to spare, I have a question for you.

    Last year, I suffered a bit financially and had to break free of my rental agreement by four months. I missed my court date with my rental property and the balance I owe has since been sent to collections. The amount I owe has also been reported to Jackson County (it is the county I live in in Missouri) and my wages at work are now being garnished.

    My question for you is, am I legally able to dispute the collection amount with the collection agency or credit bureau for listing the FULL amount on my report, even though the amount is now incorrect and less, because I am making payments through garnishment?

    Thanking you in advance

  2. Ikaika,

    Thanks for the compliment about my blog. Regarding this judgment, yes, you can dispute it. Regardless of them garnishing your wages (which you can go to the court and ask for a reduction if its too much), they still have no right to either inquire or furnish information on your credit reports.

    The FCRA states specifically that you had to give your authorization PRIOR to furnishing information and only for a credit or insurance transaction initiated by you. Who in their right mind would authorize a 3rd party collector the right to furnish negative information on their credit report? The answer in my opinion, no one! And, they did not issue credit or insurance nor are they in that business, so they fail that way also. So you never initiated a transaction, you never gave prior consent, and the FCRA does not allow it even with a judgment.

    Now, inquiring, its the same rules but for them to claim they had a right because of the judgment is a lie also, in case they try to say that. It would require a court order giving them permissible purpose. They got a judgment, not a court order to inquire on your credit report.

    Now let's talk about the judgment. Those are not put on the credit report by the court (in most cases) nor the collector. Those are put on by independent contractor data miners who dig through public records. This is a violation of the FCRA because of the same requirements for furnishing information as described above applies as well, plus it is all hearsay and they have no standing to verify anything. They would have to be a party to the action in order to verify. So, if you get a letter from the court clerk stating that they don't verify with credit bureaus, then when you dispute, you send a COPY of that letter in to the bureaus and by law they must remove it.

    Will this stuff come off if you throw these laws at them? Not always. None of these folks are fond of complying with the law. Hopefully it will, but not necessarily, and possibly only with repeated disputes or the help with of the CFPB or a lawsuit against them.

    If you have more questions, feel free to email me or call me. My contact info is up at the top on the right hand side.

  3. I constantly emailed this site post page to all my friends, because if prefer to read it then my all friends will too. credit repair companies

  4. Shannon, How are the collection agencies able to furnish to the credit bureaus if they haven't been given consent? If they were 'assigned' the debt from the original creditor, does that transfer the 'consent' originally given to that original credit?

  5. Shannon, sorry for the previous question. It looks like you answered it in your previous post. So you don't need to 'approve' my 2 comments.Thanks!

    1. Hi Expert, yes I answered it in the previous post. I've been doing some research for a collection lawsuit of one of my clients. I happened to come across some case law that tries to refute 73 Am Jur 2d Ss 90 & 93. However, even though a court may want to interpret or make new law by ruling and summarizing something doesn't mean it is law or new law or even correct, for that matter.

      Am Jur is an encyclopedia of US and State laws, I believe it actually may be the summaries of Supreme Court laws (US & States). Anyhow, as I read case law that contradicts the facts about the law of subrogation as described in the above citation, my mind always shoots back to another wonderful clarification made in a famous section of Am Jur.

      That would be 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177, 2d Sec 256. What it says basically is that any law that is not in agreement with the Supreme law (US Constitution) is not a law, non-law, void and no one has to follow that fake law nor be bound by it and no court has to enforce it. (obviously I've paraphrased it here).

      So, when I have some slimy debt collector that tries to challenge the 73 Am Jur citation with irrelevant or contradictory lower case law, I sling 16 Am Jur back at them and do the happy dance!


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