Even if they were legit, they won't file litigation (which is a lawsuit) because the overhead costs are considerable. But who cares? It's not a lawsuit until they serve you. Then it'll be a month + til the first hearing, and the suit will be extinguished once you pay them, which you're planning to do anyway. Ergo it's no threat at all.
Absolutely not. This is a SCAM.
Most likely, a crook has hacked a collector's database and obtained information about your debt... and is now impersonating the bona-fide creditor in order to trick you into paying the wrong person.
There are two giveaways:
- The urgency. They want you to move fast before you get a chance to do research, sleep on it, etc.
- The desire to be paid by the exchange of information. And in such a manner that anyone could turn the data you are giving them into cash, from anywhere into the world. This person can be sitting in an Internet cafe in Romania working this scam on you.
How to pay to block scammers (in case they're real)
America still uses a method that works very well to assure only the right party receives payment. It is called a check. The check has a some wonderful security features.
It must be physically mailed. You can defeat a scammer who uses unwitting "office assistants" by independently researching/confirming the proper mailing address of the collector to whom you owe money.
Since you write the name of the creditor's business on the check, anyone else will have difficulty finding a bank willing to risk its own neck to cash it.
The check will have the account number, but only the most trusted companies can convert a check directly into an EFT withdrawal. Everyone else must take it to a bank where it is scanned and interchanged through the Check21 system. This eventually turns into an EFT, but a single check does not enable multiple EFT withdrawals. Tricks such as changing the check number would be spotted quickly. So the check solves the problem of giving them your account details.
A temporary account as RonJohn proposes, might be just the ticket. If you only issue paper checks I cannot see how you can be held liable for more check amounts than you wrote.
Consider the consequences of making any payment
If this were legit, the moment you make a payment, you "acknowledge" the debt. This has an effect on your credit report: it restarts the 7-year clock on reporting of that bad debt. You get very little credit for paying the debt off in full, it will remain a reported R9 bad debt for 7 years after your last payment.
If the statute of limitations had passed in your state, you are legally clear of the debt and do not need to make any payment. I wouldn't normally propose welshing on debt, except for the unfairness of the above credit reporting.
Negotiate for your best deal
A legit creditor fully expects to get a fraction of the full debt paid. You can easily settle for a fraction. The forgiven debt is reported to the IRS as income under normal circumstances.
However you can usually get a creditor to agree to terms favorable for you in non-monetary ways: such as
- to agree that there is a legitimate dispute over whether the debt is valid or not, and you are settling to close the matter. (whether it's really legitimate is irrelevant; you could mutually agree the moon is made of green cheese in a contract; you are only agreeing this legal fiction is the basis of your agreement.)
- Therefore it will not be reported or acknowledged as a valid debt to anyone
- including a credit reporting agency
- including the IRS for debt-forgiveness purposes
Write a contract to that effect and send it to them and have them sign it. This is typically done via postal mail or fax - which again frustrates scammers because they have trouble pretending to be that.