I received a letter telling me that I owed a debt of $535.73, but,
"if I paid $214.00 immediately," they would cancel the
debt. I cannot recall owing this debt. It was made, according to the
company (I called this AM) in 1980, under my husband's name. We
retired in 1978 and live on Social Security. He has never had a
credit card and I have always taken care of our money, since he was
in the Marine Corps and overseas so much. I have checked through as
many old papers as I have and can't find this debt. When I pay a
card off, I always cut it up. I have no cards now, and pay
everything by check. Can they collect on a debt this old? I asked
them to send any paperwork on this debt to me, but they said,
"if I refuse to send a check at once," they will take me
to court! What must I do? Thank you for your advice!
Disclaimer: Let me first say that
I am not a lawyer. You should always seek the advice of licensed
attorney in your state. This response is Scott's interpretation of
legal issues and is for your entertainment only.
My impression is that you're dealing
with an unscrupulous debt collection company that, quite frankly,
may be lying about the debt! Be very careful not to disclose too
much information to these people because you cannot trust them!
Do not send them any money! Do not
give them any information about your checking account or any other
If the debt they are calling on is
real, and 23 years old, it's going to be far past the statute of
limitations in SC (10 years). You can send them a letter stating
that, "This debt is past the statue of limitations and not
legally collectable. Have a nice day. :)"
In the case that they claim it's not
an old debt you are still protected against many debt collection
tactics by The
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This law
requires many procedures to be followed by debt collection
companies, and it seems that the company which called you violated
Validation (Section 809a): Within
five days after the initial communication with a consumer in
connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall,
give you information such as the amount of the debt; the name of the
original creditor; a statement that you have 30 days to dispute the
debt; among other items. You can see the entire law by clicking on
its hyperlink in the previous paragraph.
And if you ask, they have to prove it!
Section (b) states, "If the consumer notifies the debt
collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in
subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed,
or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original
creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or
any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains
verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and
address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or
judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to
the consumer by the debt collector."
In your first conversation they
threatened to take legal action when you asked to provide proof of
the debt. Legally, they must give you that information. The next
time they call tell them that according to the FDCPA, section 809a,
they have 5 days to give you information about that debt.
After they send that information,
dispute the debt. This will force the debt collector to do more
research. Then, if they provide some paperwork about the original
debt, you'll be able to better verify its accuracy.
Since the debt is probably not valid,
you could simply send them a cease-and-desist letter as pursuant to
805c. Write that you want them to stop contacting you for any reason.
However, there are some reasons that they can contact you again like
to let you know that they're not going to contact you again or
they're going to take some other legal action.
Please let me know what happens with