The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been around for over 30 years. The FDCPA is a federal law that applies to every state. In other words, everyone is protected by the FDCPA. Its purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy. The FDCPA creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the FDCPA. The FDCPA is essentially a laundry list of what debt collects can and cannot do while collecting a debt, as well as things debt collectors must do while collecting a debt.
One important section of the FDCPA is section 1692g, which deals with validating debts. Section 1692g states, “[w]ithin five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall…send the consumer a written notice containing” the following information: (1) the amount of the debt, (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed, (3) a statement that the consumer has 30 days to dispute the debt, otherwise the debt will be assumed to be valid, (4) a statement about what the collector will produce if the consumer disputes the debt within 30 days, and (5) a statement that the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if it is different than the current creditor. In other words, the 1692g Notice Letter contains important information about the debt and about the consumer’s rights. Therefore, consumers should read this letter carefully.
If a consumer receives a 1692g Notice Letter from a debt collector, the consumer has 30 days to dispute the debt and to obtain additional information the debt from the collector. Therefore, consumers should always respond to 1692g Notice Letters in order to obtain complete and accurate information about the underlying debt. Furthermore, it is crucial to dispute the debt within the 30-day window, too, if the consumer does not owe the debt. Once a consumer requests validation of the debt or disputes the debt, the debtor collector must stop all collection activities until the debtor collector provides verification of the debt to the consumer. Therefore, the consumer will have some momentary relief from the telephone calls and the letters while the collector gathers and provides verification of the debt. More importantly, however, the debt collector will be forced the validate the debt before continuing with collection efforts.
In summary, consumers should carefully read the 1692g Notice Letter and exercise their the right to validation and right to dispute the debt. That way, consumers will be educated before determining how to attempt to resolve the debt at issue.