Sometimes, consumers that are under the crushing weight of debt payments mistakenly believe that they have no rights and no options. But this is not true.
Federal and California law provide consumers with many tools and procedures that can be used to fight back against unfair and unlawful debt collection practices. For example, one of the most common unfair debt collection practices used is to post debt on credit reports without verifying that the debt is actually owed and/or owed in the amount listed. Or, alternatively, a debt collection agency might simply contact a debtor and demand payment without confirming the amount or that the debt is due.
This is where debt validation comes in. Under a federal statute called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), consumers have the right to demand validation (or verification) of any debt claimed AND the amount due. Indeed, it is essential that consumers demand verification.
California has an even more consumer-protective statute called the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “Rosenthal Act”). Under the provisions of both statutes, debt collectors must provide written verification of debts they are attempting to collect. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors must respond to a demand for verification within 30 days; under the Rosenthal Act, debt verification must be provided within five days.
So, when a debt collector first contacts you, it is important to make a demand for validation. The demand must be in writing. Under the federal statute, the demand for validation must be made within 30 days of the first contact. Once the demand is made, the debt collector is prohibited from making any further contact or effort to collect the debt until their debt validation response is provided.
Aside from wanting the debt collector to stop harassing you, here are common reasons for demanding a debt validation:
- The debt is not owed (or in the amount claimed)
- The debt is not yours (maybe, it is owed by someone with a similar name or a family member)
- The debt has already been paid or settled
- There are questions about the alleged debt and more information is needed
- There is a legal defense to owing the debt
- The debt is more than four-years old and cannot be collected under California law
- And more
On the issue of old debt (debt that is older than four years past due), under California law, there is a four-year cutoff date for debt collection. This is called the “statute of limitations.” If past-due debt is older than four years, at the four-year mark, the statute of limitation kicks in and efforts to collect the debt are “time-barred.” If a debt collector knows it is trying to collect time-barred debt, that is a violation of both the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act. Thus, demanding verification is particularly important with old debt. If you think a debt collector has violated your rights with respect to debt validation or if a debt collector is seeking to collect on old debt, it is important to seek the advice and counsel of proven Debtors’ Rights attorneys like those at the Guardian Litigation Group.
Creditors who fail to validate debt or otherwise violate the rights of debtors can be punished and held accountable under both the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act. For example, if a debt collector refuses to respond to a debt verification demand and/or continues to attempt collection after receiving a demand for verification, they can be sued. Punishments under the FDCPA can include money damages and up to $1,000 per lawsuit plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
Contact an Experienced Debt Relief and Debtors’ Rights Attorney
For more information, contact the Debtors’ Rights attorneys at Guardian Litigation Group. We will fight for you. We can help with an individual creditor or a group. We can help if you need debt reorganization or debt discharge. We have the tools and experience you need. Our mission is to provide unparalleled legal services and support for those being crushed by their debts and harassed by their creditors. We can be reached via our