I have received multiple calls from a finance company about an account balance on a credit card that was charged off in 1997 and then the company decided to ask me to pay for this account in 2012. I just started receiving calls from this finance company that says it just found out my address after 2 years and now they want to pay the amount of $1000 pay off this account. The problem for me is that this sounds fishy and I live on a small low income and have been for the last 14 years. To whom can I go to know what to do? Thanks so much .

  • I'm not too knowledgeable about finance, but that sounds VERY fishy. Do some due diligence but I'll also be interested to see what others here have to say. Cheers Jul 2 '14 at 17:40
  • consumerfinance.gov
    – DumbCoder
    Jul 2 '14 at 18:48

There are statutes of limitations on how long they can wait before coming after you. 14 years certainly exceeds it, which I believe means you are not legally required to pay.

statutes of limitations by state

The most likely scenario is that this is a scam. Second most likely is that this is a collections agency trying to trick you into paying even though they don't have legal authority to force you. In that case if you do pay them anything, then the statute of limitations restarts and they can legally start giving you trouble, so definitely don't do that.

If they keep harassing you, you can probably take legal action against them. That's the worst case scenario, though. I'd just ignore them. At this point, if they are legally entitled to any money, which I highly doubt, they will need to take you to court. They are not going to do that over $1000. Blocking their number might be a reasonable idea.

I would doubt whether they can even do anything to your credit rating over this issue. If you are worried about your credit, you can check your oustanding debts and negative incidents at www.annualcreditreport.com and see if you see anything. I would be surprised.

Edit: You might read up about time-barred debts (assuming it's not a scam. I still think it is).

FTC page on time-barred debt

  • It might be worth contacting the bank that issued this card and asking whether they have, in fact, sold your account to the company that's contacting you. If not, this is scam. If they have, you need to decide what to do about it.
    – keshlam
    Jul 16 '14 at 2:39
  • Note that if you even acknowledge the debt, you may have reset the statute of limitations. Jul 16 '14 at 19:55

If they are a debt collector, they must follow the requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In particular, they must provide you with verification of the debt at your written request. If they won't give you a way to do this, they are in violation of the law, and you should contact proper authorities. If they are not a debt collection agency, it does sound like a scam, in which case you should also contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

  • But would doing so (asking for verification) reset the statue of limitations? Oct 23 '14 at 15:37
  • @user2813274 - IANAL, but I wouldn't think so. You're not acknowledging anything by essentially asking them to prove that the debt exists and that they have legal title to it. A lot of this kind of debt is sold to fairly shady collectors as a spreadsheet. They have no actual documentation, and no way of proving chain of title. If they can't do that, they have zero recourse, as far as I understand it. Once you ask for the documentation, if they can't provide it, they basically have to back off. Oct 27 '14 at 21:35

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