Friday, September 9, 2011

Should You Send a Debt Validation Letter After Getting a Lawsuit Summons?

Just about everybody has heard horror stories about collection agencies suing debtors. In lean economic times, lawsuits from debt collectors occur more frequently. Receiving a summons and complaint in the mail from a bill collector sends many panicky debtors directly to their computer. After doing some mild research in a variety of credit forums, they determine that the best course of action is to send the debt collector a debt validation letter. It makes the perfect answer to a summons, since all collection activity must stop until the collection agency validates the debt, right?

Wrong. And if you do this, you might just find yourself in hot water.

Debt Validation After a Court Summons

Collection agencies don't sue debtors as soon as they purchase their accounts. From a financial standpoint, doing so would be stupid – especially if collectors can convince a fair number of debtors to pay up without ever paying an attorney or setting foot in a courtroom.

So the collection agency will call you...and send you letters...and call you some more...and offer you a settlement....and so on and so forth. By the time the collection agency finally bites the bullet and files a lawsuit against you, its been trying to squeeze payment out of you for a very long time.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act notes that, while any debtor can demand that a collection agency validate their debt, they must do so within 30 days of their first contact with the collection agency. After that initial 30 day window, the collection agency is not legally obligated to either respond to the debt validation request or drop the lawsuit.

Answer The Summons, Then Ask for Validation

If you never recieved any notice that you owed a debt and the summons and complaint is the first paperwork you've ever gotten from the collection agency, you still have your 30-day window of time in which to ask the debt collector to validate the debt – but your validation request does not constitute an answer to the summons. If you have legitimate grounds to contest the lawsuit, by all means, send the validation letter, but if you don't file a formal answer to the summons with the court, you will find yourself facing a default judgment from the collection agency.


  1. Should I send validation letter. Its been 4 years the collection agency has doubled the amount they say is owed I have ignored all letters up till now

    1. If you haven't talked to the CA in four years, what would make you start now? Often if you start communicating with a collection agency out of the blue, they hone in on you and become more aggressive with their collection efforts. There is no shame in flying on the down low until the SOL expires and that debt falls off your credit report.