Should You or Shouldn’t You: Making Payment on an Old Debt

You receive a phone call or perhaps a letter from a collection
agency
attempting to collect payment on a delinquent debt that
you are sure is older than you can remember.  Perhaps you can
pay it off, perhaps you can’t afford to pay it off, perhaps you are
not sure whether or not
you should pay it off
because you believe it may be too
old.  Finding out the age of your delinquent debt should be
your first step prior to making a payment and determining your
course of action.

Plenty of consumers wonder what will happen if they just don’t
pay
an old debt
.  The good news is, if it is old enough,
depending on the type of debt and the state you live in, you may be
okay not paying it. After a certain period of time, there is a
statute of limitations in which the collection agency can no longer
sue you for the debt and there is a period of time in which a
collection agency can no longer report the debt on your credit
file.  So you decide, if a collector cannot sue you and cannot
report the debt on your credit file, should you or shouldn’t you
make a payment?

Often I have consumer debtors telling me that a collector is
calling to collect a debt that is passed the statute
of limitations
.  The rule is simple, a debt collector can
call or contact you to collect a debt from now until the end of
time.  There is no law that says a collector must stop
collection efforts on a debt you owe but once the debt has reached
a certain age, the collector can no longer sue you to collect on it
and the collector cannot report the debt on your
credit report
, so most consumers would not consider making
payment.  However, it is against the law under the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), to misrepresent the nature of a
debt.  What this means is a collector cannot lead you believe
that he or she can file suit or report the debt on your credit
report in an effort to force you into making payment.  Making
a payment on a debt that is passed the statute of limitations,
albeit a small one, will bring the debt back to life, allowing the
collector to sue or report.  So if a collector threatens to
sue you or report a debt that you believe is too old, he or she has
violated the FDCPA.   

As far as your credit report is concerned, the debt can be
reported for seven years from the date of delinquency. 
The date of delinquency is the date you fell behind on making
payment.  After this period of time has elapsed, the account
must be removed from your credit report, including the account
reported by the original creditor and the account reported by a
debt collector. 

If you have a debt collector contacting you to make payment on a
delinquent debt and you believe he or she may have violated your
rights under the FDCPA, contact SmithMarco
P.C.
for a completely free case
review
.