So you’ve sent your FDCPA Validation Request…Now what?
Normally, you’ll get a letter with some basic information that says what the collector already told you: that you owed $15,000 to HSBC and they were assigned the account from HSBC and therefore you owe them money. They may have other information like “Charge Off Date,” “Last Payment Date,” “Account Opening Date,” etc. The dates are important – very important for you if they are more than 4 years old – but you should never take anything a debt collector says to be true unless it 100% agrees with your own recollection of reality. They often get flawed information from the original creditor and just parrot the bad info when they report to credit bureaus and when they seek collection from you. But if their own documentation shows the last payment or charge-off date to be more than 3 years old, then you can potentially use that document against them in court if they sue you. The statute of limitations that applies depends very much on the way they draft their lawsuit, so talk to a consumer credit lawyer before trying to beat them with a statute of limitations argument.
What if they don’t respond? Well, if you sent them the validation request within 30 days of their first contacting you about the debt, then they MUST send you the validation, otherwise they’ve violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and you can hire a guy like me to sue them for you.
If it has been more than 30 days since you first heard from them, then they are not legally obligated to send you the validation. However, it is something you should make note of if you ever have to hire a lawyer to deal with them on your behalf.
Now, about those credit reports…
If your validation request also contained a notice of dispute under 15 U.S.C. 1692e(8), then the debt collector is not allowed to report the debt as owed without also noting that it is disputed by the consumer. If you check your credit report a month after you’ve sent the dispute/validation request, then the report should say something like “consumer disputes liability on this account.” This doesn’t really affect your credit score much, but it does put potential lenders and other interested parties on notice that the reported debt is possibly not actually owed.
This sort of claim isn’t going to amount to much if your goal is to sue the collector or credit bureau for damages to your credit, but if they don’t follow the law and report the account as disputed, then that does give you a potential counterclaim against them for the legal violation, and it may encourage them to take a reasonable settlement offer or just delete the account from your credit report altogether.
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