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Do you have a debt that is 5 years old and are just now receiving dozens of phone calls from third-party collection agencies? If so, these debt collectors may be in violation of the FDCPA. You have rights as a consumer and have the ability to protect them.

Debts that go unpaid for years actually have an expiration date. While this date varies depending on what state you live in, you should always check to see if an old debt is past its statute of limitations before agreeing to pay a debt that a collector asks for. If the debt is older than your state’s statute of limitations, you can choose to decline to pay it. Expect to hear a fair amount of backlash from the debt collector, but if you can confirm that the debt has expired, you do not need to bend to a third-party collection agency’s demands.

Not sure whether or not a debt has expired? You should speak with a consumer attorney first. He or she will know your state’s laws and can help you find out whether or not you need to pay a debt. If the third-party collection agency continues to bother you, you may be eligible to file a claim under the FDCPA. But your time to file a claim may be limited, so be sure to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

The following collection agencies have allegedly violated the FDCPA in the past and harassed consumers.