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Can collector come after me for 20-year-old debt?

Janna Herron

Janna Herron

Dear Credit Card Adviser,
I’ve been receiving letters from a debt collector for about 20 years saying I owe a stability of $18,000 on a credit card. I’ve by no means responded to them and there’s nothing on my credit report. In the 20 years they’ve been after me, I’ve moved 4 occasions and every time they discover me. What is that this, and what can I do to cease them?
— Ginny

Dear Ginny,
Unfortunately, collectors and debt collectors can try to gather an previous debt advert infinitum. What they can not do is sue you for the debt after your state’s statute of limitations has handed, which has most likely occurred in your case. The debt collector — which most likely purchased your debt from the credit card issuer for pennies on the greenback — is hoping you do not know that or that you’ll fulfill an previous debt out of some lingering ethical obligation.

Here’s the factor: This debt cannot damage you. It’s too previous. The collector cannot get a judgment in opposition to you from the courts, and the dangerous historical past of that debt is simply too previous to be discovered in your credit report. Negative objects fall off your credit report after seven years from the date of the primary delinquency (bankruptcies take 10 years from the courtroom submitting), underneath the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, the debt collector cannot say the debt will damage your credit, as a result of that could be a lie and a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA.

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Now, that is how one can get the letters to cease. Write a letter of your individual, saying to cease contacting you. Copy the letter and ship the unique by licensed mail to the debt collector. Get a return receipt for the letter to file that the collector obtained the letter. The U.S. Postal Service expenses $2.55 for a mail receipt and $1.25 for an electronic mail receipt.

The collector can’t contact you once more as soon as they obtain your letter underneath the FDCPA. There are two exceptions. A debt collector can contact you to verify there will likely be no extra contact or to tell you of a particular motion, similar to submitting a lawsuit. In your case, the debt collector cannot do the latter.

If for some cause you determine to pay the debt, be sure you pay it in full or settle the debt for an agreed quantity. If you ship a small, good-faith cost that does not fulfill the debt, you restart the statute of limitations on the debt’s life span. That means the debt collector then has the power to sue you for the debt.

If the debt collector will get a judgment for the debt, that judgment can present up in your credit report as a result of, as a public file, it is counted as a separate merchandise from the unique delinquency, charge-off and collections account of the debt.

So, write the letter, and both pay all or nothing. The selection is yours.

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