As the title asks, is it legal for debt collectors to send notices in an email without a judge's prior approval?

The location in question is Nebraska, USA.


The notice's request is only to update billing information on a CURRENT contract... but at the bottom it states

This communication is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
Unless you notify this office within 30 days 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 in writing within 30 days from receiving this notice, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of a judgment or verification. If you request from this office in writing within 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.

Note that I have never received correspondence from them about any existing debt, nor have I signed any documentation stating that they may contact me by email.

  • 2
    Is it from a company that you've done business with? Or does it reference a debt that's yours? It sounds like a scam to me. Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 22:13
  • 6
    looks like a scam to me... correct me if I'm wrong but it says "we decided you owe us money, if you don't tell us otherwise in 30 days it will become truth. Now tell us where to send the bills". Ridiculous.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


You say this is for a CURRENT contract, which I assume means that you have a debt outstanding, e.g. a car loan or mortgage. Sometimes, a lender will sell the loan contract to someone else who then becomes the new lender and receives the payments etc. Some loan agreements may prohibit the lender from selling the agreement to someone else, but unless language to this effect is included in your contract, someone else can purchase the loan from the original lender. The new lender is entitled to verify that your address is correct so that they know where to send the receipt when you make the payment etc., and this letter seems to be an effort to do this innocuous thing, not an attempt to collect the debt right away. As you yourself say

The notice's request is only to update billing information on a CURRENT contract.

While the loan can be sold, the new lender is not entitled to change the terms of the loan agreement unilaterally as in "We just bought your car loan from SeedyBank and guess what, the entire amount owing is due in thirty days instead of in thirty four monthly installments of $X each." At least, they cannot change the payment schedule as long as the loan is in good standing. On the other hand, if you are delinquent on your loan payments, different rules apply (which also are the same as the ones you originally agreed to when you signed the loan agreement), and maybe these rules do say that the whole amount is due right away if you are delinquent by more than Y months.

With regard to permission to send e-mail etc., it might be the case that you agreed to accept electronic statements, bills, notices, etc. by e-mail in lieu of paper documents in your original loan agreement, and if so, this agreement carries over to the new lender. In any case, if your loan is in default and you have no intention of repaying it (and this is the reason the loan has been sold to a collection agency), there will likely be a final notice delivered by certified mail to your last known address (your contract most likely specifies your address and says that delivery by certified mail to this address is proof that you received the mail, and in case of changes, you are obligated to inform the lender), and court judgments, sheriff's orders, etc will come later, and also as paper documents, not e-mail.

You say that you never received any correspondence from the company regarding your existing debt. Did you receive a communication from your original lender saying that henceforth someone else would be collecting the payments? (and if so, did you throw it away without reading it?). If you believe that you do not owe these guys anything, write back and tell them so. But if the loan was legitimately sold, you were informed about this and either have forgotten or ignored the letter, then there may be more back and forth and headaches to get the matter resolved.

I am not a lawyer, but based on what you say, I do not believe that what you received is a collection notice, and I do not believe that a judge is required to approve either the original lender's or the new lender's request for verification or update of the billing address, either by US Mail or e-mail.

By the way, the language at the bottom might be standard boilerplate language and disclaimers included in all emails from the company. All e-mail that you send from your company account likely also has appropriate legalese at the bottom included automatically.


No collector can release debt information to anyone but the debtor so if they are sending out emails that you did not initiate they are probably not sure who is receiving them. A clear violation of the law DELETE or send to spam unless they can show you proof of your ownership of that email address. Pretty hard for them to do.

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