Can a Debt Collector Collect Old Debts?

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Are you currently dealing with debt or maybe you have in the past? Did you know that the United States Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in 1977 to help protect you? This act was passed to protect all consumers from any harassment or abuse from debt collectors. These debt collectors are usually working on the behalf of a business or entity that does not have the time to deal with each debt that may be out there.

Collecting on an Old Debt

Debt collectors can collect on old debts, however, there are time limits to how far back they can try and collect. Most collections can go back a few years, but honestly there is different statute of limitations per state. And believe it or not, the type of debt also depends on if the collectors can even still collect it.

  • First missed payment, clock starts to run on time for them to sue
  • The type of debt determines when the clock runs out for the collectors; in some states the statute of limitations on credit card debt is 10 years while other states it can be 3 or 6 years

Zombie Debt

Zombie debt is just what it sounds like, debt returning from the dead to haunt you! Zombie debt happens when someone purchases the debt from the original creditors for mere pennies. The new debt owners are ready and eager to collect on any debt you have out there. However, they have to be careful about any time constraints on how long the debt has been out there. Usually, the zombie debt collectors can be ruthless and harsh. Do not give in to their tactics!

Scheme to collect that debt

  • Just make a small payment, we will leave you alone: Beware! As soon as you make that small payment you are starting the clock back over and if your debt was to old to collect it is not anymore!
  • Suing you or even a threat to sue you: If the time limit has run out on the debt they cannot legally sue you. Know your rights!
  • Harassing or Verbal Abuse: it is against the law, no matter how old the debt is, for any debt collector to harass you or verbally abuse you. Just one call to the FTC and/or general attorney can give you the upper hand and tell them you will not take the abuse.

To Pay or Not to Pay…

Most of us would not even think about paying a debt that is time barred, or to old to collect on by the debt collectors. However, others are willing and are not sure how. If you decide you would like to clear up your old debt, just call the original collector, see if they will settle with an amount smaller than the original debt and pay that. Most collectors, after all those years, are happy to collect something as that is no open debt just sitting out there. Contacting an FDCPA attorney can also be very helpful in settling old debts.