Fix Your Credit Report Without Paying a Cent
Regarding the ability to fix bad credit, consumers have a very important right found in The Fair Debt Practices Act. Namely, consumers have the right to have a collection account validated.
Outlined in the FDCPA, there is a process known as validation and it is significantly different from the common process of verification. Verification simply centers on the credit bureau asking a creditor to verify information present on a persons account. This is a very cursory process that can be dealt with in a rather short amount of time. The creditor will simply review records and then provide it to the agency. The agency will then decide whether or not the creditor has provided accurate information.
When a collection agency is asked to validate a debt, by contrast, the process can get pretty involved. The collector must prove that the debt is your responsibility, and also that they have the legal right to collect it from you. Furthermore, the collector has to cease all collection activity until they provide this evidence to you. If the agency can’t validate the debt, it must end its attempts to collect on the debt and stop reporting the collections account to the credit bureaus.
Note that your right to validation applies specifically to collection agencies, not to the original creditor. Collection agency records are presumed to be less reliable than those kept by the original creditors. Collectors are often guilty of going after the wrong people or misstating the amounts owed; the validation process is meant to protect consumers from those practices.
To validate a debt, the collector needs to present documentation – obtained from the original creditor – proving that you do indeed owe the money. Validation can be a powerful weapon in your fight to clean up collection actions on your credit report. Many times collectors don’t have the documentation required, especially if the debt has been passed around from one collection agency to another, as often happens. Frequently, they have little more than a computer printout to back up their claims, and the Federal Trade Commission has made it clear that such a “mere itemization” isn’t sufficient proof to constitute a validation of a debt.
The validation process can not only help you eliminate collection accounts that don’t belong to you, but it might help you get rid of some that actually do. That last statement might surprise you, particularly if you’ve heard the credit bureau company line that you can’t legally remove true, negative information from your credit report.
In rare instances, it is possible to use the validation process as a means of removing accurate information from your credit report. This is mostly the case with old collections information. Some may say this is not a fair method but it is a legitimate one. Basically, you request validation on an old debt and if the debtor cannot provide the needed information, then it may be removed due to lack of validation. Again, this is only successfully achieved in rare instances but it can be done.