Do Collection Agencies Have to Provide Proof of a Debt?

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When a collection agency calls you to collect on a debt, you have the right to ask for validation that they have the necessary documents pertaining to your account. Some debt collectors do not have the documents and some do. If you ask a company for your records and they don't have the documents, do not continue to deal with that company any further.

Validating Debt Documents

  • These documents show that the agency collecting the debt is entitled to receive payment. The documents should list the debt amount and any contract the agency has with the original creditor. You can request a copy of the original agreement you had with the creditor, and the collection agency should have all of this information.

Assigning Debt

  • If a collection agency has an assigned debt, they do not own the debt. They will not have a copy of the agreement that you signed with the original creditor. They will not have your documents pertaining to the debt, so you don't have to pay.

    You do have to pay this debt if your agreement stated that you would pay the debt to the creditor or to its assigned collector.

Purchasing Debts

  • Some agencies purchase debts for pennies on the dollar. Even though the company has bought the debt, if they don't have the original agreement and documents on the amount of debt owed, you don't have to pay them. If they have the documents and a contract stating that they own the debt, you will have to pay it.

Validation Request

  • Ask for a validation of the account. If the company sends you proof that they own your debt, you will be responsible to pay it to them. If they cannot validate the account with a contract from the original creditor, you do not have to pay them, but you are responsible to pay the creditor.

Invalidated Collection Debt

  • Once you determine the debt cannot be validated, you can tell the company to stop calling you. Only companies that own your debt, and can verify it with proof, have the right to call you. A company that cannot verify your debt cannot report this debt to the credit agencies either. If you are a victim of this practice, you can demand that the item and company be removed from your credit history.

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