According to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s 2020 Annual Report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 75,000 consumer complaints regarding debt collectors in the previous year. Around 45 percent of these complaints involved attempts to recover debt that was not owing in the first place. Given these figures, it’s easy to see why an increasing number of people are turning to debt validation.

What is Debt Validation, and how does it work?

Debt validation, also known as debt verification, refers to both your right to challenge a debt and getting a debt collector’s verification of a debt. This right is granted to you under section 809 of the United States Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The major goal of this procedure is to reduce the number of times debt collectors approach the wrong people and try to collect debts that have already been forgiven or paid.

Communication at the Start

Initial communication refers to the first time a debt collector approaches you about a debt. This can be done in the form of a letter or a phone call. The collector must now tell you of the amount you owe, the creditor’s name, and other pertinent information.

The Notice

Within five days after initial contact, a debt collector must notify you in writing of your debt validation rights. The written notice must include the following information:

  1. The amount you owe.
  2. The creditor’s name.
  3. A statement stating if you don’t challenge the debt validity within 30 days, the debt collector will assume the debt is valid.
  4. A statement that if you dispute the bill in writing within 30 days, the debt collector will obtain and mail a copy of the debt verification or a judgment against you.
  5. A statement that the debt collector will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if it is not the current one, if you request it in writing within a certain amount of time.

What is the purpose of requesting validation?

While you may be tempted to pay up the debt to avoid a negative mark on your credit report or to avoid complications with a forthcoming loan application, using your right may be in your best advantage. Because of the following reasons:

  1. You have the opportunity to confirm that the debt is legitimate and not fictitious.
  2. You can check to see if you’ve already paid it.
  3. You place the burden of proof on the debt collector to prove that the debt is legitimate.
  4. You check to see if the debt collector has legal power to collect the debt.

Submitting Your Validation Request

To be legally valid, you must submit a debt validation request in writing within 30 days of receiving the notice. You can protest a portion of the debt or the total amount in your letter. You can also look for the name of the original creditor. When a collector receives your letter, he or she cannot contact you again until you’ve received the information you’ve asked. It’s best to send your debt validation request by certified mail. This guarantees that you have proof of both the date you mailed it and the date it was received by the debt collector. This could come in handy if your case ends up going to trial.

Debt Collector's Reaction

Debt collectors are unable to proceed with collection efforts after receiving debt validation requests unless they can produce sufficient documentation of the debt. If you don’t hear from a debt collector concerning the validity of your debt, you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus. Determine how old the debt is if a collector verifies it, as most credit-related information is erased from your credit reports after seven years. Other options include paying off the amount in full or resolving the debt.


Receiving a notification from a debt collector might be intimidating, especially if you have no memory of the debt. Fortunately, debt validation is a legal right that can help you get the relief you’re looking for. If you’re unsure how to proceed, consider obtaining professional guidance.