Collection agency calling about a 16 year old debt. Do I have to pay?

In 1992, I was a Freshman in college and was approved for a Citibank MasterCard. A year or so later, I had charged about $600 on it and defaulted. I got collection notices etc. way back then, then never heard about it again. I’ve not had any issues getting car loans, I was approved for a mortgage etc. in the past few years.

Back in June, I get a letter from a collection agency asking for payment on that credit card from the early 90’s. Now they somehow have my phone number and I get a message about once a week asking for payment. I thought there was something like a 7-10 year statute of limitations on debt collection. Can they come back after all these years and add something negative to my credit rating? Or is this, as I suspect, a company that buys “old debt” and just pockets it if some sucker actually pays after 15+ years?

In a word…NO!

Just ignore the letters and phone calls,

You might want to check out your state laws first. Some debts, such as credit card accounts, may be ‘open-ended’.
From MSN

Generally not. What State do you live in?

In any case, the debt should not show up on your credit report.

Usually the best idea here is to send them a letter (2 copies, one 1st clas, the other Certified Mail) stating that you dispute the debt and you do not want any further contact from them.

You spent the money, you should pay it regardless of if you have to.

No, since you are not paying it back to the people who lent it to you. All you are doing is making a scamster collection agency richer. This just convinces them to use even more immoral and illegal tricks to collect cash from naifs. Paying money to such people is an immoral act.

If you really wanted to make your consience clear, then contact your original company that lend you the money. Of course, since they have already written off the money, they are constrained to some extent from accepting it, it should cause minor tax problems.

I live in South Carolina now. The initial debt was also in South Carolina. But I’ve moved to different states since then and am now back in SC. And somehow, one of my new ‘Welcome Home’ letters was from this agency. From what I’ve looked at on the web, that debt was on my credit for 7 years, so from around 2000-2001, it should be gone.

You mentioned ‘disputing’ the debt. I most definitely ran up the debt, so I cant ‘dispute’ it .

Also, I’ve moved MANY times since 1992. I’ve lived in multiple states since then. Im really surprised they could even find me. Whats REALLY odd, is that I was initially sent a letter in June. In July I moved to a different town, got a new phone number and they are STILL contacting me. I’m amazed at the speed at which whatever database they draw from is updated.

I knew I was gonna get this response from someone. Call me an immoral person if you want, but I don’t want to pay $600 for a teenage debt. Let’s keep this thread in General Questions.

Apologies, I hadn’t registered the forum we were in. A danger of browsing via new posts.

I’ve never disputed a debt, but from the way people have spoken about it, I always assumed that “dispute the debt” meant disputing that this particular agency has the right to collect it (taking into account the statue of limitations and the rules they are required to follow and whatnot), not necessarily disputing the validity of the debt itself.

>I thought there was something like a 7-10 year statute of limitations on debt collection.
Don’t know.

>Can they come back after all these years and add something negative to my credit rating?
They should be able to. The credit ratings are collections of information about what you did. Whether there’s a statute of limititations is not the same thing. It’s one issue whether the law would go after you, but it’s quite another whether the law would go after somebody else who is only keeping track of your history.

>Or is this, as I suspect, a company that buys “old debt” and just pockets it if some sucker actually pays after 15+ years?
>No, since you are not paying it back to the people who lent it to you. All you are doing is making a scamster collection agency richer. This just convinces them to use even more immoral and illegal tricks to collect cash from naifs. Paying money to such people is an immoral act.

DrDeth’s suggestion that a collection agency collecting on this debt is a scam, and that you should pay the debt not to them but to the original lender, is inaccurate on both counts, I believe. Since debt collecting is a difficult and uncertain art, there has undertandably been a specialization of skills in the formation of collection agencies, who try to become more efficient at it than their customers were. The original lender accepted money from the debt collector to transfer this weakened asset to them, and the agency had no guarantee their investment would pay off. If it does pay off, they are the ones entitled to it. You will note that, not only did they pay the original lender for the debt, but they also put some work into it, which by your OP is the reason you are considering all these things.

http://www.cardreport.com/laws/fdcpa/fdcpa.html

http://www.expertlaw.com/library/consumer/fair_debt_collection.html

This is the point that may make the SOL claim moot. The statute of limitations applies to while you are in that jurisdiciton, leaving the jurisdiction caused the SOL clock to stop till you return. The SOL clock starts when the original creditor writes off the debt, not when you quit paying on the debt. FYI, the SOL in South Carolina is 6 years. Also, the appearance of the debt on your credit report is irrelevant when it comes to determining if the debt if valid or not.

Sure you can. You can send one of two types of letters. One is a debt validation letter. This asks the creditor to prove the debt is yours and by law they must cease collection efforts till the information is supplied. The other is a cease and desist letter. These only apply to third party collections, original creditors do not have to honor them. In this letter you deny the debt is yours or is no longer legally collectible and that the collection agency is to no longer contact you about the debt again. These letters produce one of two results. Either the collection agency drops the collection efforts or they take to to the next step and sue. On a debt this potentially stale, I would sent a cease and desist letter. Excellent examples are available at creditboards.com.

http://www.scstatehouse.net/CODE/t15c003.htm

I assume the game changes considerably for debts such as federal financial aid (college studednt loans)?

http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DCS/disputes.html#SOL

heh, and I was gonna call you out for getting all moral and stuff:p;)

No worry’s.

BTW, Does anyone know if Citibank was involved in any of those obscene financial scandals between 1992 and now, in case I want to morally justify not paying? :slight_smile: If I did decide to pay it, am I essentially paying for a CEO’s wife’s lunch at some point during the Clinton era?

So, if I understand you, then if someone owes me money when we are both 20 years old, I can let it go for 70 years, then send it to a collection agency. As long as we are both in SC, I can wait 5 years and then sue the other party for the civil debt when we are both 95?

Or, if the person left SC after age 90 for, say, 10 years, then I can wait until we are both 105 and the SC civil courts will say that the SOL has not expired?

I would need some time to dig it out, but surely this can’t be right…

I’m curious, too. Would it make a difference if it was one thousand, five thousand? So, you could just never pay off your debts and they would be uncollectable at x amount of time? Surely this can’t be right. Is it “ok” just because it’s only 600 dollars? Not trying to be obtuse, but I can’t believe that something like this wouldn’t affect your life or at least credit history in a negative way.