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I used to live in America back in 2012, where I had T-Mobile. I left the country in 2012 and closed my account with T-Mobile but apparently that was never done on their side and I no longer have any proof.

I have now moved back to America and I have found out today that I have a collection of $762 USD, paying this is not a problem for me and I have accepted that here is no way I can prove that I closed the account. But as the collection is from January 2013, I am wondering what my best options would be. As I understand it, if I did not pay it would it go away January 2020. If I did pay it now would it first go away in 2023? Is my understanding of the 7 year thing correct on this? Should I try to contact them about pay for delete or is that impossible today?

I live in California, where the SOL is 4 years. Should I then wait to do anything about this until after January 2017 (in 2 months) as it would then be out of SOL (18th of January to be precise), as I have heard that debts out of SOL is much easier to get pay for delete on.

It should be added that the collection is only with TransUnion, and I already have a high limit credit card and car. And I am first planning on buying a house around 2020 anyway.

  • Possibly relevant: can you itemize what the $762 was for? Was it an early termination fee, and/or unpaid charges prior to your leaving, and/or was it charges that accrued after you thought you canceled and left the country? – TTT Nov 17 '16 at 14:48
  • Also, how did you find out about the collection? – TTT Nov 17 '16 at 14:58
  • T-Mobile would not tell me what the collection was about as they had sold it, so they said they where not allowed to touch it, but they could give me a number of the collection agency. I am yet to call them! My guess it would that it would be a unpaid changes after i left. I did a full credit report yesterday to see what my score was across the 3 agencies, i had not seen it before as it was only with TransUnion. – Androme Nov 17 '16 at 19:58
  • Since now is the first time you found out about the charges, then it would be unreasonable for it to remain as a negative on your credit report. It should be possible to have removed completely. As for whether or not you need to pay the bill, that depends on exactly what the charges are. If your account was paid up when you left the country (and thought you canceled), then I would expect that the bill could be waived if you were able to talk to the proper person with the authority to do it. (Note: these statements are what I feel is fair, though not necessarily reality, unfortunately.) – TTT Nov 17 '16 at 20:12
  • I agree that that should how it would be, however paying the amount is not a problem for me, so dose that makes it easier for me am i find with that. (I should have kept the proof). What matter most to me if to get rid of the negative mark on my credit score, and i am looking for the best approach forward to get this removed. – Androme Nov 17 '16 at 21:57
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I see no benefit to you to make contact before January 18, why take the risk? You can still pay in full on January 19 if that's your intention.

I'd also keep things simple - just ask for proof. No need to prove beyond doubt that you were a T-Mobile customer:

Dear sir or madam, I do not have record of any debt to T-Mobile. Per the FDCPA, I am writing to officially request you cease debt collection activities.

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I would suggest that the first thing you need to do is get proof that the debt is legitimate from the collection agency. They must be able to show that you actually owed T-Mobile the money they're after, or else they can't collect it from you.

Do not go through T-Mobile for this (as you already found out), they won't help, it's not in their interest to. Write a letter to the creditor. Be careful how you word this letter, though, as it may be possible to damage your statute of limitations defense by corresponding incorrectly. Something like this:

Dear sir or madam, I do not have record of any debt to T-Mobile at the present. Per the FDCPA, I am writing to officially request you provide documentation of the debt, and cease debt collection activities until such time as you provide such documentation. Further, my understanding as of the last correspondence with T-Mobile was that my account was closed and current at the time; as such, I would request that you specifically include any agreement that I may have made that obligates me to pay this debt.

If you intend to pay the debt if it's legitimate (and I will say that given the facts you've presented and the dollar amount, it sure looks like a Early Termination Fee of a contract to me, so you may well owe it), you might include that at the end of the letter - that you fully intend to pay the debt if it is proven legitimate to your satisfaction, but that you do not believe it is. Be careful with that wording, though, because you may reset the statute of limitations if you promise to pay it unilaterally.

If/when they are unable to prove you owe the debt, I would send mail to TransUnion and ask them to remove it from your credit report.


Now, you're correct that the debt will fall off your report sooner if you don't pay it than if you do. That's an unfortunate result of our system; in order to have some consumer protection, they added the 'seven years' rule, but that does hurt people who pay old debts.

Do be careful though; if they file suit to collect, between now and January, your credit report may be more dinged than it is now. One bill that goes to collections is bad for your credit for sure, but it's a lot worse to have a lawsuit, especially if they win - and if this is truly an ETF you just didn't pay, they will probably win if they have their ducks in a row. Many collection firms don't, and they may well never file suit against you, but it may not be worth finding out.

  • If OP does choose to pay the debt, can't he negotiate removal of the mark from his credit report? – stannius Nov 22 '16 at 18:38
  • What would be the purpose of the credit report if they allowed you to remove things from it? The fact that a delinquent debt existed has predictive value whether or not it was paid. – Joe Nov 24 '16 at 0:11
  • I don't know, and I've never done it myself, but I've read that advice many times. It might be inaccurate but reportedly, inaccuracy is negotiable. – stannius Nov 24 '16 at 5:21

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