In Tocco v. Real Time Resolutions, New York Judge William Pauley, III recently ruled that secondary collectors are still required to send a validation notice to avoid confusion by consumers over who holds the debt, and whether they have the right to contest it. This means that subsequent debt collectors must send separate validation notices to the consumer, even if they received a notice from the prior debt collector.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), §1692g, a consumer has the right to request the validity of a debt being claimed against them and that the collection agency has to prove it. They must send, within five days of their initial contact with you, verification of the debt, or a notice stating the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and a statement that the debt will be assumed valid if the consumer does not dispute it within 30 days of receiving it. Pauley also pointed out that "a consumer who has challenged an initial debt collector to verify a debt may not realize he or she has the same right with respect to a subsequent collector."
After you receive verification, this is when a consumer should immediately send your debt validation request (within the 30-day window). Basically, a debt validation letter is a request to prove the account being claimed is legally yours, the amount being claimed is correct and the collection agency claiming it has the legal right to claim it. When you send a validation request, it is advisable to send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested. The return receipt can be used as proof your letter was received by the debt collector. At this time, the collector must cease all collection efforts until you receive written proof of the debt. (View a sample debt validation request letter).
Some debt collectors play by the rules, and some do not. If any debt collector has failed to present to you the required notices, it is best to speak with an experienced consumer attorney. Consumers may sue for up to $1,000 for statutory damages, plus attorney's fees for any FDCPA violations. Stop the harassment today!