What is a “G Notice” and Why Should You Pay Attention to It?
If you’ve received any type of collection letter, you’ve probably seen the disclaimer. It has become so standard that you may have even ignored it. It’s the paragraph that reminds you of your rights to dispute a debt, and it is legally required to be written like this:
“Unless you notify this office within thirty (30) days in writing after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office within thirty (30) days from receiving notice, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment and mail you a copy of such judgment or verification. If you request, within thirty (30) days after receiving this notice, this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose. This letter is from a debt collector.”
The G Notice and When it is Required
This language is called a “G Notice,” deriving from the Section G of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It must be provided to you within 5 days of the debt collector’s first contact with you (even of that contact is by phone). Each new collector must provide the notice, so if your debt is sold from one collection agency to another, the new one must provide you the same notice.
Like all parts of the FDCPA, the G Notice laws only apply to debt collectors. They do not apply to original creditors (that is, the company that originally extended the debt to you).
A collector cannot threaten to take any action against you that would confuse or contradict the G notice. So, for example, a collection agency could not write that a “suit will immediately be filed,” because that could confuse a consumer into believing that he or she did not have the 30 days to dispute the debt.
What Do You Do With a G Notice?
Let’s start with the easiest scenario: If you completely ignore this notice and you do not mail your dispute in writing, it does not mean that your debt is legally valid. It does not waive your defenses or prevent you from defending a collection lawsuit.
During the 30-day period referenced in the notice, the collection agency can continue to try to collect your debt from you, unless you dispute the debt in writing. Your dispute does not need to have any fancy legal language.
Once you send in a written dispute of the debt, the collection agency must stop all collection activities against you. This includes stopping all letters and phone calls. They can only resume when they send you “validation” of the debt.
Unfortunately, courts have not been very strict on what qualifies as validation. Generally, anything that the debt collector send to you showing that the debt is valid will suffice; the debt collector doesn’t have to prove every element of its case in order to meet the requirements of the FDCPA.
If a debt collector does not send the validation or verification of the debt’s existence, there is no penalty for them but they must stop all collection of the debt. Some debt collectors, without documentation of the debt, may never send any information, and thus, will be barred from collecting (including filing any lawsuits on the debt).
If and when the debt collector does send the required information validating and verifying the existence of the debt, only then it then can continue collecting the debt.
If you are being harassed by debt collectors, the Miami consumer rights attorneys at Jacobs Legal can help you in enforcing your rights under the FDCPA.