Paying Off Debts: How Old Is Too Old?
Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
You recently obtained a copy of your credit
report and notice an old debt that is hurting your score.
You do not know whether you should pay it.
There are many factors to consider. First, look at the age
of the debt. Every state has a different statute of
limitations that covers how long a creditor has to file a lawsuit
to seek a judgment for the debt it is owed. The statue of
limitations is the amount of time a collector has to sue you for a
debt. After a certain period of inactivity on the debt
(meaning no payments toward the debt), the debt becomes time barred
and the collector can no longer sue you for it. Find out the
of limitations in your state by clicking here.
If that time has passed, and it can be as little as 3 years in some
states and as much as 10 in others, then there is absolutely no
responsibility to pay that debt, and no consequence for refusing to
Second, consider the operation of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,
negative information can only be reported for up to 7 years.
When the delinquency was fresh and recent, the effect on your
credit was at its worst. As time goes on, the effect that the
delinquency has on your credit lessens. Ultimately, it
comes off altogether. The 7 year period starts 180 days
after the date of the first delinquency. So consider
how much longer this item will remain on your credit report.
There are certain exemptions to this rule like Bankruptcy and tax
Third, closely look at the information related to this debt on
your credit report. Is
it your debt? Is the date on the debt correct? Are
their any errors related to this account? If you do not owe
the debt or the debt has erroneous information, you must dispute
this with the credit reporting agency. An old debt that
has been passed to different collection agencies might have
incorrect information, such as the date. Look closely at the
old debts to verify that information reported is correct.
If you have an error on your credit report, send a letter
disputing the error to each credit bureau reporting the
error. For a step-by-step instructions to disputing errors,
here. One important piece of advice is to send your
disputes certified mail, receipt requested. Keeping a paper
trail of your actions will be extremely helpful. To view
complete article, click here.
SmithMarco, P.C., has over 30 years of combined experience
practicing law protecting the rights of consumers around the
country. If you questions or want a free case review, contact us today.