Now, debt collectors must send consumers a “validation notice” within 5 days of first contacting them (FDCPA § 809). One reason for the notice is to help consumers figure out if the debt collector is going after the wrong person.
The validation notice has to contain the amount of the debt and the name of the current owner of the debt (FDCPA § 809(1)(2)). CFPB wonders whether consumers need more information to recognize the debt as one that they really owe. Here are possibilities:
- Name and address of debtor. (This info will be on the envelope if the validation notice is mailed, but it might not always come by mail. See below: Format of the notice.)
- Names and addresses of other people responsible for the debt.
- Debtor’s partial social security number (for privacy reasons).
- Original creditor’s account number (or part of the number, for privacy/security reasons).
- The name and contact information of the original creditor if that’s different from the current owner. (See Telling Consumers what’s happening with their debts—Notice that the debt has been sold.)
- The brand name the consumer would recognize as the company they originally dealt with, if that’s different from the original creditor’s legal name.
- Date and amount of the last payment the consumer made on the debt.
- Copy of the last billing or periodic statement sent to the consumer.
- The type of debt (student loan, auto loan, etc).
- For debts from testing labs or other medical services, the name of the doctor, medical group, or hospital (a name the consumer would associate with having gotten these services).
- Current practice: How much of this information do debt collectors and debt buyers have now?
- Costs: What expense or problems would debt collectors and buyers have with giving consumers this information?
- Benefits: Which of these will help consumers most, and why?