Debt Collection Laws Understanding your Legal Rights in the us

Debt collectors calling to say you must pay a debt that you owe is a call that many people have experienced in the last few years. Most of the people that work for debt collection agencies are very respectful of the people they are attempting to collect from, but some companies are abusing the trust of people that they are contacting by trying to collect on past debts that the individual is not legally obligated to pay because the debt has expired.

Understanding Expired Debt

A debt that has expired is a debt that has existed for more than seven years and has not any type of activity on the account throughout that time. Legally, a person is not obligated to pay these debts due to a legal statute of limitations placed on collections of debts across the nation. These laws were put in to place in order to prevent the collection agencies from attempting to collect on debts that are virtually impossible to validate.

Even though this type of debt collection is illegal, there are some unethical debt collection agencies that still try to collect on these debts anyway. Why do they do it? Simply put, they are relying on a person’s lack of knowledge of the laws surrounding debt collection to collect money that they are not legally entitled to. These companies have nothing to lose due to the fact that all they have invested in the account that they are attempting to collect on is time, nothing else.

The debt collection companies do not have any affiliation with the original account holder as they have typically purchased the debt from the original company for pennies on the dollar or have been assigned the account from another company. This means if they can collect any portion of the original debt it becomes nearly 100% profit for the debt collection agency. For this reason, many of these companies use highly aggressive collection tactics that a legitimate collection agency would not use for fear of being held accountable for the tactics in court. These unscrupulous companies want to achieve a level of fear that would get the individual to pay the debt more quickly without asking too many questions about the transactions.

Can I Do Anything About It?

Yes. If you know a company is trying to collect on a debt that is more than 7 years old and there has been no activity on the account, you can simply inform the debt collection agency that is attempting to collect the debt that you are fully aware of the laws surrounding the debt, and any further attempts to collect that debt will cause you to report them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Sometimes alerting these companies just is not enough, as there have been cases where they have actually changed dates to reflect current activity on the debt, so they can extend the period of time to make the debt valid. If you find this to be the case, report them under the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act without hesitation. If you need to you can even take the collection agency to small claims court and have them pay you damages for harassing you about an expired debt.