Do you have old debt you’re not sure how to handle?
So many good people experience times in their lives where they face financial adversity. The 2008 recession in particular impacted millions of people. Throughout the course of my career I’ve had to set many people straight on the topic of old debt that I thought I would blog on the topic in hopes to help more people understand their rights and how to make educated decisions.
Step 1: Obtain your credit report. You can do this for free once per year simply by going to www.annualcreditreport.com
Here you will have what is on the three big credit bureau’s: Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
Go thru your entire report with a highlighter and highlight anything derogatory and all “old debt” items you see. Now, you may be surprised on some of the dates you see. For example, let’s say you had a credit card debt of $10,000 dating back to 2008 and the credit card company turned your account off in 2009 and began their collection process. Now you see that same “old debt” but the date says it’s a debt where they stared collections in 2013. How can that be right? Read on.
Step 2: Find your state’s Statute of Limitations. In short, what this means is how long your creditors have to collect on your debt. So go back to the $10,000 credit card debt from 2009. If your state has a statute of limitations of 6 years, they can only go after you until 2015. But now it’s 2017 and you’re still getting collection calls and/or threatening letters in the mail. So many people ask me, “how can they just adjust the date beyond the statute of limitations”? The answer is they can’t, but in the next point I’ll explain what happens.
Step 3: Find out if a law office or attorney bought your debt! It doesn’t have to be a law firm; in fact, many of these companies are nothing more than sales organizations/credit collection companies that simply try to scare people into paying on a debt the original company sold off to them! These are companies that use in many cases, very aggressive, somewhat shady business practices to scare the lights out of you in an effort to collect. They purchased your debt for pennies on the dollar and set up very aggressive campaigns to frighten you into one of a few things: 1. Admitting you owe the debt. When you do this, they “re-age” or what’s called “park” your debt. This is a big reason people see old debt “within the statute of limitations….again…and again…and again”. An illegal practice, especially when the creditor did not notify you in writing that they intend on re-aging your old debt. 2. Say or may any notion that you intend on paying. This can take you backwards and resurface even the oldest of debts. The easiest way to handle these people is to “hang up” on them.
Should you find yourself fighting an old debt, here is my recommendation:
- Do research on the company coming after you. Are they really a legit law firm or posturing themselves as such?
- Write back to them within 35 days of their initial contact. Request verification of the debt. They legally must show proof that you owe them, proof of the actual sum and proof that they are entitled to collect.
- If they are harassing your cell phone, home phone or mailbox, write them a letter to cease all communications with you. They must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Dispute any “re-aged” actions you see on your credit report directly with them; and not acknowledging in your letter that you owe the money.
- If you don’t see the date removed on your credit report, you can write directly to the three main credit bureaus directly. They legally must remove it if they do not written confirmation.
Over the years, so many people in these situations simply are not educated on their rights as a consumer. As a result, “old debt” prevents many people from moving forward with their plans to get a mortgage and own the home they wish to live in.
If you need help or advice on this matter, I would be happy to help. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
The information on this website is designed to inform and educate only. The views and opinions expressed herein are simply those of the author and do not reflect the policy of my company.