Old Debts, New Concerns

By Debbie Wilson
LoanPage.com Columnist

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You may have embarked upon the debt consolidation process years ago or only just recently, but that doesn't mean you won't be haunted by old debt or debt collectors. Today, super aggressive debt collectors are buying years-old debt for merely pennies on the dollar, hoping they can badger people into paying up. Do you know your rights?


Debt Collector's Responsibility For Proof

Debt collectors will go after any kind of debt, even those that have undergone debt consolidation. But be aware that, in some cases, even charges like phone bills, credit card payments, mortgage payments, and medical costs may not be legitimate. You may have paid your debt in the past, but the record was lost. Or, the debt may be in the wrong name due to divorce, identity theft, or a clerical mistake. In any case, regardless of the circumstances, it is important to maintain your debt consolidation practices and make the debt collector prove it's really you they're after. You can do this by sending a certified letter with a return receipt to the debt collector, asking for written evidence of incurred debt.

Debt Statute of Limitations

You may be surprised to know that there are statutes of limitation on your debt. If the bill is older than what the statute allows for (usually three to ten years), you're not required to repay it, even if the debt is outstanding. Contact your state attorney general's office to find out if the statute of limitations on your debt has expired.

Regardless of the circumstances, debt collectors may threaten to sue you or damage your credit rating. Don't cave in and just fork over the money. Know the facts and stand your ground. Only then can you prevent those old debts from coming back to haunt you!


About the Author
Debbie Wilson owns and operates a lakeside resort. Her previous experience includes profitability consulting for a national healthcare company. Debbie holds a B.A. in Business Management with a minor in Physical Education.

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