Making the Collection Agency Prove That You Owe the Debt in St. Louis

When you fall far enough behind on your bills, sometimes the debt can get turned over to a debt collector or collection agency.  Collection agencies will vigorously pursue you on the debt, making phone calls all hours of the day, and sending you several letters each month.  But what if the debt in question is not actually yours?  Or what if you believe that the amount of the debt is not accurate?  Or what if the collector is asking you to pay on several different debts, and you are unsure if you actually own all of them?  These are all excellent questions, and according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you have the right to request from the collector some form of documentation that validates the debt.  In other words, you can make the collection agency prove that the debt is really yours.  This process is called “Validation of the Debt”.

NO UPFRONT FEES REQUIRED.  THE COLLECTOR MUST PAY FOR YOUR ATTORNEY FEES.

The FDCPA states that within five (5) days of the first time the collection agency contacts you about the debt (whether by phone or letter), the collector must send you a written notice of your right to have the debt validated.  This notice is meant to make you aware of the fact that you have the opportunity to dispute the debt that the collector says you owe, and to demand proof that it is actually yours. 

This dispute must be made within thirty (30) days after you initially receive the notice.  If the dispute is not made within this timeframe, the collector is free to assume that you do not have any problem with the debt they say you owe.  Thus, you should definitely demand that the collector validate any debt it is trying to collect on. 

In order to receive validation (or proof) of the debt, you should take the following steps:

~    Within thirty (30) days of the initial notice of your right to validation, mail a letter (written or typed) to the collector making it clear that you dispute the validity of the debt.  This letter should be sent via certified mail (with return receipt requested).  

~    If the initial contact is by way of a phone call, you may orally request validation of the debt.  But the request must still be made within thirty (30) days of the initial contact with you.

~    Your dispute can be in regards to your ownership of the debt, the amount owed, or even the name of the original creditor.  The words you use in order to make the dispute are completely up to you, so long as you clearly state that you have some sort of issue with the claims that the collector is making.

~    Once the collection agency receives your dispute and request for validation, the collector cannot make any contact with you unless or until it has provided you with the information you have requested. 


The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal statute that regulates the activities of a collection agency or debt collector when it tries to collect on a debt.  The act goes into effect the moment the debt is bought by the collector, and its provisions are meant to protect consumers from any unlawful conduct on the part of a collection agency.  This type of conduct would include things like threats, calls to friends or family members, making contact with your employer, demeaning comments, and foul language. 

In addition to stopping any harassing conduct made by a collection agency, you may also benefit from a St. Louis bankruptcy.  Depending on your particular situation, a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy may work best for you.  The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at Brinkman & Alter, LLC have been assisting people with their debt issues for over ten (10) years.  The initial consultation is free of charge.  So contact us today to learn more!!

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