Throughout the life of the average person, he or she typically incurs many debts, usually starting as soon as the age of majority, 18, is reached. As people get older, it may become difficult for them to remember every one of their debts. Circumstances may exist where some entity tries to collect a past debt, and some question arises as to the debt’s validity, amount, or legal obligor.
Consumers may verify or validate a debt under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), which requires that any debt collector verify the amount and validity of a debt upon receiving a consumer’s request. However, it is crucial that consumers make this request within thirty (30) days after they are first contacted by a debt collector.
Once a collection agent first contacts a consumer attempting to collect a debt, he or she has thirty days to dispute the validity of the debt.
Once this request is made, the debt collector must provide the name and address of the original creditor, if applicable, within the thirty-day period. If the validity of the debt is not disputed, the debt collector will assume that the debt is valid.
If a debt collector’s first contact letter does not provide the following information, it has five days from the initial contact letter to provide it:
- the amount of the debt;
- the name of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed;
- the validity of the debt must be disputed within 30 days;
- if the validity of the debt is not disputed, the collector will assume it is a valid debt;
- if the validity of the debt is not disputed, the agency will provide verification of the debt; and
- if a written request is sent within 30 days for the name and address of the original creditor, the agency will provide it, if different from the current creditor.
Once verification is requested, the contacting entity must stop any collection efforts. Once any written communication is sent that disputes the debt or requests verification of the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector must cease all collection efforts and cannot resume them until it takes certain actions required by law.
These actions include an investigation and re-verification of the pertinent information about the debt and original creditor. Then, the collector must mail the verification, which must include the original creditor’s name and address, again, if applicable.
Any debt collector that is an attorney must also stop all collection efforts, but, of course, may file a lawsuit. It is important to note that if sued and a summons is received, the deadline to respond is likely less than the 30-day deadline to request verification of the debt.
Requesting verification of the validity of a debt may be useful if the debt has been sold or transferred to a party other than the original creditor. Typically, companies that purchase debts, buy them in bulk without detailed information about each debt. This causes the process to be error-prone and result in collection agents collecting the incorrect amount or from the wrong individual consumer.
Debt collectors have the right to use any legal collection effort, such as a lawsuit, to recover the amount of the debt. Theron Morrison has vigilantly ensured that they do it within the confines of federal and state law. Those creditors that do not but instead violate a bankruptcy discharge, the FDCPA, or any other applicable rule or regulation that protects Utah consumers, face sanctions, the payment of damages, and even the possibility of having to pay a consumer’s attorney fees.
Talk to Theron Morrison and explore gaining a fresh start. Talk to the Morrison Law Group today about your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy options. Call 801.456.9933 to schedule a FREE consultation. We have locations in Ogden, Logan, Sandy, and St. George to serve the residents of the counties of Weber, Cache, Salt Lake, Utah, Morgan, Davis, Washington, and surrounding areas.