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FDCPA: Debt Collectors Not Required to Verify a Debt Prior to Initial Contact

Dec 05, 2011 Missy Rogers

It's hard to believe that The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") has been around since 1978.  And it's even harder to believe that so many people still don't know what the Act does and doesn't permit and what it does and doesn't prohibit.  Misconceptions abound, not the least of which is that the Act requires a collector to investigate and verify a debt prior to initial contact with a consumer (i.e., debtor).  In fact, the FDCPA requires no such thing.   The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act demands only that those engaged in debt collection do the following: 

  • Identify themselves and, in every communication (whether in writing or by telephone), notify the consumer that the communication is from a debt collector;
  • Notify the consumer in the initial communication that any and all information obtained will, if relevant, be used to collect the debt;
  • Provide the name and address of the original creditor if the consumer requests same within 30 days of the initial communication;
  • Advise the consumer of their right to dispute some or all of the debt with the debt collector;
  • Provide the consumer verification of the debt or halt collection efforts if the consumer, in writing, requests such verification or disputes the debt within 30 days of the initial written notice of collection efforts;
  • Report disputes to any and all credit bureaus that report the debt.

The only other general requirement that the FDCPA places on debt collectors is that they establish and maintain procedures reasonably adapted to avoid practices or errors that would violate the Act. 

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