Advertiser Disclosure

Pay Down My Debt

Debt Validation Letters: What You Should Know

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

managing debt

Debt is serious business. Not only should you take your debts seriously for moral and practical reasons, but it’s important to know that there’s an entire industry that revolves around managing, validating and collecting on people’s debts. If you default on what you owe, rest assured that someone will come knocking.

However, it sometimes happens that debt collectors are chasing the wrong people, whether due to identity theft or mistakes in record keeping. That’s why one of the mainstay documents in the world of debt collection is the debt validation letter, which serves as an essential bulwark against errors and fraud in debt collection.

What is a debt validation letter?

Borrowers who have defaulted on debts should keep an eye on the mailbox. Once a debt collector contacts you for the first time — usually via a phone call — they have five days by law to send you a debt validation letter. Sometimes this letter serves as the first communication from the collector. Its purpose is to make sure that the debt in question actually belongs to you.

The rules governing these letters are laid out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that defines the limitations on third-party debt collectors who are tasked with collecting debts on behalf of others. The act’s provisions on handling defaulted debt stipulate that debt collectors can’t use “any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.” This means that they must have validation to support their requests for payment from a particular person. A debt validation letter is often called a “G notice” by those in the industry because the rules for it are laid out in section G of the FDCPA.

The rules are meant to protect consumers from errors caused by mistaken identity and identity theft. While identity theft is the more attention-catching issue, many errors also arise from mix-ups among people with common names — a particular problem with family names from certain cultural groups — and particular naming conventions, such as fathers and sons with Jr. and Sr. suffixes. Mistakes also occasionally occur in the amounts being collected and in record keeping indicating whether or not the debt has already been paid.

The debt valuation letter must contain the following information:

  1. Name of the creditor
  2. Amount to be collected
  3. That the debtor has the right to dispute the debt, which must be done in writing within 30 days
  4. That you can request the identity of the original creditor in writing within 30 days, if it’s different from the current creditor
  5. That once you have disputed the letter in writing within 30 days, no further action can be taken to collect the debt until validation is provided

Item No. 4 on the list is a particularly important thing to understand when debt may be packaged and sold, repackaged and resold, ad infinitum. An example is a letter telling you that you owe a debt to “Midland Credit,” a company you’ve never heard of. Before you become alarmed that there’s been a mistake, request the name of the original creditor from the debt collector. They might inform you that Midland Credit is actually a Capital One card, which will clear up your confusion. It’s important to realize that no collection activity can go forward until they supply that information in response to your request, providing you a reprieve until all uncertainty is cleared up.

How to request a debt validation letter

Debt collectors must send out your debt validation letter within five days of the first time they contact you. This means that you should receive it a few days after that, unless if the debt collector has an incorrect address for you, it may take longer for the letter to get to you (if it arrives at all).

If you don’t receive the letter when you expect it, you still have the right to dispute the debt in question. Imagine you get a phone call from a debt collector, then two weeks go by without a letter arriving in your mailbox. Your best step to take at this point is to call the debt collector and request the letter.

In many instances, the problem is that they are using an old address for you. If that is the case, the debt collector will likely ask to verify your address over the phone. Some debtors who aren’t prepared to deal with the debt may hesitate to verify their address. Certainly no one can force you to provide your current address to the collector, but withholding it can negatively impact you down the line when you’re finally forced to account for the debt.

“Some people feel they don’t want to give their address and be harassed,” said Joshua Cohen, a consumer protection attorney at Cohen Consumer Law. “If that’s how you feel, then you should go to a consumer attorney to know all your rights. There’s nothing worse than going in front of a judge and saying, ‘I didn’t get my letter.’ And then having the collector say, ‘We didn’t have the right address and he wouldn’t verify the address.’”

Keep in mind that it’s good practice not to supply any personal information over the phone until you have verified that the party you’re talking to is a legitimate debt collector.

Responding to a debt validation letter

If you would like to ask for validation of the debt after receiving a debt validation letter, it’s a good idea to use a template to make sure you’re expressing yourself clearly in a way the debt collectors will understand. Send the letter to the debt collector at the address provided in the debt validation letter. There are many templates for such letters available online, including some by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The letter you write will depend on your response to the debt validation letter. For instance, you will write a different letter if you believe the debt is not yours versus if you simply need more information before you can figure that out. If you believe the debt is not yours, though, remember that debts are bought and sold, so the fact that you don’t recognize the creditor’s name does not mean there has been a mistake. It’s best to find out all information possible before you conclude that you’re being held responsible for someone else’s debt.

The CFPB advises that you make sure to find out all of the following information, some of which should be provided in your debt validation letter and some of which you may have to ask for in your response:

  • The name and contact information of the debt collector
  • The total debt amount, including any fees such as interest
  • The reason for the debt and the date it originated
  • The identity of the original creditor
  • Any information the collector is using to justify their conclusion that it is you who owns the debt

It is a good idea to keep a copy of this letter and to send it via certified mail with a return receipt, so you have a paper trail of your communication with the debt collector.

What happens after you’ve sent a validation request?

Once you’ve sent your validation request, the debt collector does not have a deadline to respond. It’s a common misunderstanding that the collector only has 30 days to respond to a validation request, but in truth, they can take as long as they want. That open-ended time frame is a benefit for debtors since the debt collector can’t contact you during the period that they’re working to validate the debt.

“If they take six months to validate, that’s six months they can’t bother you,” said Cohen. “The only thing they’re allowed to do is to say, ‘We’re not collecting this debt anymore.’”

Relinquishing the debt collection altogether does indeed happen. As a general rule, if the debt collector doesn’t respond to the validation request within 90 days, then you’ll likely never hear from them again.

If they do respond, they will provide some amount of information, but often not as much as the debtor wants or has asked for. Unfortunately, the debt collector is not required under the FDCPA to send the debtor a full accounting of the debt, the promissory note or the full agreement.

Many consumers assume that debt in collection cannot go forward unless the debt collector can provide the promissory note, but that is not the case. The debt collector is permitted to submit validation of the debt that basically amounts to a statement from the creditor saying you, the debtor, owe the amount in question.

Once the debt collector has responded to your request for information, they are allowed to resume collection efforts. If you still doubt whether the debt is yours upon receiving whatever information the debt collector provides, you can take action to try to clear up the confusion. If the debt collector can’t provide proof, you can try calling the creditor directly at the contact number provided on your credit report. There are times that a debt collector will decide not to pursue your debt at this point, or they may keep pursuing it until you can definitively prove it’s not yours.

“Debt collectors want to do their job the right way,” said Cohen. “Despite what people think, they want to do it the right way. The more proof you send about the debt not being yours, the better they can do their job and talk to the creditor about not making you pay the note.”

However, if you aren’t able to get this proof and you feel confident the debt isn’t yours — whether you’ve been a victim of identity theft or there’s been a mistake — you should go to a consumer attorney. You can dispute the debt with the creditor and with the credit reporting agencies, which an attorney can help you with. The problem may resolve itself, but if it doesn’t, you’ll probably have to proceed to litigation.

“If the debt isn’t legitimate, the debt collector is the least of your problems,” noted Cohen.


Debt validation letters bring a sense of order to the process of debt collection and provide important protections for those who are being asked to pay large sums by debt collectors.

Those who owe a debt but can’t pay will need to deal with that fact sooner or later; the receipt of a debt validation letter may be a good motivator to contact a consumer attorney to understand your options. Looking to an attorney is also a good idea if you’re being pursued for a debt you’re certain isn’t yours. The debt validation letter will be one of the first indications that something fishy is going on.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Katherine Gustafson |

Katherine Gustafson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Katherine here


Get A Pre-Approved Personal Loan


Won’t impact your credit score

Advertiser Disclosure

Balance Transfer, Pay Down My Debt

The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

Before you read on, click here to download our FREE guide to become debt free forever!

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.30.44 PM

Updated – January 10, 2019

Digging out of credit card debt can feel frustrating, intimidating and ultimately impossible. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be any of those things if you learn how to take control.

Paying down debt is not only about finding the right financial tools, but also the right psychological ones. You need to understand why you racked up credit card debt in the first place. Perhaps it was a medical emergency or a home repair that needed to be taken care of immediately. Maybe you’d already drained your emergency fund on one piece of bad luck when misfortune struck again. Or maybe you’re struggling with a compulsive shopping problem, so paying down debt will likely result in you accumulating more until the addiction is addressed.

You also need to understand what motivates you to succeed. Do you want to pay down your credit card debt in the absolute fastest amount of time possible that will save more money or do you want to take some little wins along the way to keep yourself motivated?

Here’s a couple strategies consider as you learn the best way to handle credit card debt — and pay it off quickly.

2 common credit card debt repayment strategies

These repayment strategies can help you pay off credit card debt quickly. Keep in mind, you can use these strategies even for non-credit-card debt:

  • Debt avalanche: Focus on paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. Then, work your way down. This strategy can save you money on interest and get you out of debt sooner.
  • Debt snowball: Pay off your smallest debts first. Doing so can motivate you to continue making payments as you climb out of debt.

You don’t necessarily need to pick the repayment strategy that gets you out of debt the fastest. After all, if your repayment strategy doesn’t keep you motivated, you may not stick to it.

Using a personal loan or balance transfer credit card

As you seek to repay your debt, you could consider a personal loan or balance transfer credit card with a lower interest rate than on your existing debt. Transferring your debt to one of these financial products could help you reduce long-term interest costs.

But you’ll first need to learn whether or not you’re eligible. Your credit score will play a big role in determining your eligibility for a personal loan or balance transfer card. Use our widget below to figure out if a personal loan or a balance transfer is the best option for you!

What’s the best option for me?

Please enter information below and we’ll provide the best option to consolidate your credit card debt!

If you have a credit score above 640, you have a good chance of qualifying for a personal loan at a much lower interest rate than your credit card debt. With new internet-only personal loan companies, you can shop for loans without hurting your score. In just a few minutes, with a simple online form, you can get matched with multiple lenders. People with excellent credit can see APRs below 10%. But even if your credit isn’t perfect, you might be able to find a good loan to fit your needs.

Not sure what your credit score is? Click here to learn how and where to find out. If you know your credit score needs some work but not sure of what can be done, click here.

If you have a score above 700, you could also qualify for 0% balance transfer offers. We will talk more about balance transfers below but this option is the best way to pay off credit card debt if you’re able to qualify for a 0% APR balance transfer credit card.

A credit score of less than 600 will make it difficult for you to qualify for either option. If you have a credit score less than 640, struggling to make monthly debt payments and would like to explore your options to reduce your debt by up to 50%, then please click our option below to customize a personal debt relief plan.

Custom Debt Relief Plan

Now let’s talk about the financial tools to add to your debt repayment strategy in order to dig out of the hole.

Let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card debt, and are stuck paying 18% interest on it.

You already know that putting as much spare cash as you can toward paying down your debt is the most important thing to do. But once you’ve done that, so what’s next?

Use your good credit to make banks compete and cut your rates

You could save $1,800 a year in interest and lower your monthly payments based on several of the rates available today. That means you could pay it off almost 20% faster.

Here’s how it works.

Option One: Use a Balance Transfer (or Multiple Balance Transfers)

If you trust yourself to open a new credit card but not spend on it, consider a balance transfer. You may be able to cut your rate with a long 0% intro APR. You need to have a good credit score, and you might not get approved for the full amount that you want to transfer.

Your own bank might not give you a lower rate (or only drop it by a few percent), but there are lots of competing banks that may want to steal the business and give you a better rate.

Discover it® Balance Transfer


on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Annual fee
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 6 Months
Intro BT APR
0% for 18 Months
Balance Transfer Fee
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Credit required
Excellent/Good Credit

MagnifyMoney regularly surveys the market to find the best balance transfer credit cards. If you would like to see what other options exist, beyond Chase and Discover, you can start there.

promo-balancetransfer-halfIt also has tips to make sure you do a balance transfer safely. If you follow them you’ll save thousands on your debt by remaining disciplined.

You might be scared of a balance transfer, but there is no faster way to cut your interest payments than taking advantage of the best 0% or low interest deals banks are offering.

Thanks to recent laws, balance transfers aren’t as sneaky as they used to be, and friendlier for helping you cut your debt.

Sometimes the first bank you deal with won’t give you a big enough credit line to handle all your credit card debt. Maybe you’ll get a $5,000 credit line for a 0% deal, but have $10,000 in debt. That’s okay. In that case, apply for the next best balance transfer deal you see. MagnifyMoney’s list of deals makes it easy to sort them.

Banks are okay with you shopping around for more than one deal.

Option Two: Personal Loan

If you never want to see another credit card again, you should consider a personal loan. You can get prequalified at multiple lenders without hurting your credit score, and find the best deal to pay off your debt faster.

Personal loan interest rates are often about 10-20%, but can sometimes be as low as 5-6% if you have very good credit.

Moving from 18% interest on a credit card to 10% on a personal loan is a good deal for you. You’ll also get one set monthly payment, and pay off the whole thing in 3 to 5 years.

Sometimes this may mean a higher monthly payment than you’re used to, but you’re better off putting your cash toward a higher payment with a lower rate.

And you’ll get out of debt months or years faster by leaving more money to pay down the debt itself. If you want to shop for a personal loan, we recommend starting at LendingTree. With a single online form, dozens of lenders will compete for your business. Only a soft credit pull is completed, so your credit score will not be harmed. People with excellent scores can see low APRs (sometimes below 6%). And people with less than perfect scores still have a good chance of finding a lender to approve them.



on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

If you don’t want to shop at LendingTree, you can see our list of the best personal loans here.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brian Karimzad
Brian Karimzad |

Brian Karimzad is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brian at

TAGS: , ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Pay Down My Debt

How to Manage Debt as a Single Parent in 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.


When student loan deferment ended for Samantha Gregory, a single mom and founder of site Rich Single Momma, she had one reaction to her payments: sticker shock. “The amount they were asking for was so astronomical, it was bananas,” she said.

As a single mom in debt, these high payments were added to the already steep financial demands of covering household expenses and supporting her children, including one with special needs — all on one income.

Adding debt to the significant challenges of single parenting “puts a strain on not just your finances, but your emotions, your mental health,” she said. “It’s like, ‘I have this burden over my head so how am I going to take care of it and take care of my family?’”

It’s a question any single parent in debt may find themselves asking. There’s no one right answer, but the good news is that there are smart steps a single mom or dad can use to tackle debt. Here are some tested and certified strategies for how to manage debt as a single parent.

8 strategies for a single parent in debt

1. Keep debt on your radar

A key to managing money as a single parent in debt is to keep an eye on what you owe. Gregory warned against letting debt slip in your money management juggling act. “I know for me in the past, I’ve tried to ignore it and hope it would go away,” she said. “But it doesn’t go away. It’s still there, lingering.”

Keep your debts on your radar, so you’re not losing track of them, falling behind on payments or damaging your credit. If you don’t know what you owe, pull your free credit report and look up each outstanding debt you have and record the balance, interest rate, monthly payment and due date. Start a habit of reviewing these accounts regularly.

2. Work with your lender

Once you know what you owe, see if your lender offers any help or accommodations that can make this debt easier to manage.

You’ll have the most options for dealing with federal student loans, as servicers must provide you with options to forbear or defer payments, or switch to a different repayment plan.

Even for other types of debt, it can’t hurt to ask your lender if they’re willing to work with you. They might be open to giving you an extension on your payment, and some lenders will let you skip a payment now and tack it onto the end of your repayment period instead.

3. Claim benefits and support

Help isn’t always easy to come by as a single parent, so make sure you’re claiming the benefits and child support to which you’re entitled.

Federal assistance programs such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and school lunch programs can ease pressure on your budget while keeping everyone fed, for example. Other programs can assist with fixed monthly costs such as housing, child care or health insurance. Many state and local programs can offer additional help.

Single parents should also consider filing for child support. If you’re already entitled to such payments but the other parent isn’t paying, or you feel it’s not enough, consider pursuing legal steps to get adequate support for your family.

4. Revisit your budget

As a single parent with debt, living within your means is the foundation of your financial security. Review your budget to see if there are areas you’re wasting money on things you don’t need or use, whether it’s a neglected gym membership or a house you’re realizing is roomier than necessary. Consider lifestyle changes and sacrifices — big or small — that you could make to lower your monthly costs.

Look for ways to free up some of the mental space you’re using for your money, too, Gregory suggested. She likes to automate payments, for example, to ensure they’re going out on time with less effort on her part.

5. Sell your extra time and stuff

To the single mom in debt, Gregory suggested looking for ways to generate some extra cash. “I’m a firm believer in side hustles,” she said. “There are so many options out there available to create a side hustle, start a business or just get another part-time job or work-from-home job.”

Then, “look around your house and if you have something valuable you can sell, sell it,” she said. Doing so can bring a fast cash infusion that can help you stay current on debt payments, or even make an extra payment.

It can be a tough and even emotional to sell some belongings, Gregory acknowledged. But, “It’s just things and they’re replaceable, whereas your peace of mind, your family and kids, and your health are not replaceable,” she said.

6. Make extra debt payments

If you can carve out extra savings, that’s money you can use to pay off your debts faster. One method to do so is the debt snowball:

  • Figure out how much more of your monthly income you can afford to devote to making extra debt payments. Include this as a line item in your budget.
  • Put that extra cash toward your debt with the lowest balance, and make the minimum payment on all of your other debts.
  • Watch the balance on your high-priority debt decrease faster.
  • Once your first debt is gone, “roll over” the funds budgeted for your monthly payment and the extra payment and apply them to the next low-balance debt.

Making extra debt payments will lower your principal faster which will, in turn, lower your interest costs. As a result, this strategy could avoid hundreds of dollars in interest and shave months or even years off your debt repayment.

7. Consider debt consolidation

For a single parent, debt consolidation can be another way to get ahead. Consolidating debt makes the most sense when doing so will lower the interest rates you’re paying.

A credit card balance transfer is one way to accomplish this. You can open a credit card with a 0% introductory rate. Then, transfer existing balances to this new credit card (note that this will often incur a balance transfer fee) and you can repay this debt interest-free.

If you have higher debt balances or prefer a fixed repayment plan, a personal loan could be the way to consolidate debt. To do so, you can take out a new personal loan with the rates, term or payments you would prefer and use the loan funds to pay off and replace existing debts. You can compare various lenders with our debt consolidation comparison page to get an idea of the terms and rates for which you could qualify.

8. Tap your community for support

Managing debt as a single parent can be hard on you because, at the end of the day, paying them comes down to you alone. “In the back of your mind, you’re thinking ‘There’s no one who can help me with this,’” Gregory said.

However, you don’t have to go it alone — there are often people who are ready and willing to help as close as your own backyard. So let them! Family and friends can help you out in a variety of ways, from spotting you cash in a tight month to helping with child care. You can also get assistance from your church, community and local nonprofits or programs.

Even if you don’t always find the help you need right away, asking around can start you on the track to getting the recommendation or referral that leads you there. Gregory also suggested online communities, such as local or single-parent Facebook groups, as a way to crowdsource solutions and get connected with helpful resources.

Pass your debt and money lessons on to your kids

Debt can be a big regret for many single parents. “If I had more information when I was going to college, I wouldn’t have taken out so many loans,” Gregory said.

But these ideas for how to manage debt as a single parent can help you push past regret into action. In doing so, you’ll be creating the financial security that your kids need, all while modeling what good money and debt management look like in action.

Gregory, for example, used her experience with student debt to warn her daughter away from borrowing to pay for college. As a result, “She’s really blessed that she doesn’t have to take out student loans, so she won’t be saddled with that big debt when she graduates from college,” she said.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Elyssa Kirkham
Elyssa Kirkham |

Elyssa Kirkham is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Elyssa here


Get A Pre-Approved Personal Loan


Won’t impact your credit score