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“There are a handful of states that do require the collector to tell the consumer that they cannot be sued,” said Mark Schiffman, director public affairs for ACA International.
“While it is true that every state has a statute of limitations, which varies by state and by debt type, and that a collector may not sue or threaten to sue a consumer, the collector may still seek to collect the debt from the consumer so long as it is within the guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.” He also noted that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, collection accounts may be reported for seven years.
Yet in its 2011 Annual Report to Congress about Fair Debt Collection Practices Act complaints, the Federal Trade Commission noted that in 2010 it received 17,008 complaints related to debt collection calls to consumers at work, up from 11,991 complaints the year before.
“By continuing to contact consumers at work under these circumstances, debt collectors may put them in jeopardy of losing their jobs,” notes the FTC.
The FTC reports that in 2010, just over a quarter of all FDCPA complaints reported that third-party collectors falsely threatened a lawsuit or some other action that they could not or did not intend to take.Debt collectors are not currently obligated to advise you that they cannot sue you or legally ding your credit report if you refuse to pay stale debt.” In most states, the statute of limitations runs four to six years from the date you last made a payment. “In some states, a voluntary payment on a stale debt can revive the debt and make it legally collectible,” Ginsberg said.But don’t be surprised if you hear about a very old debt.Additionally, some mortgage lenders may require you to pay or settle collection accounts before giving you a loan.“Collecting debts of the deceased is a growing and lucrative business. ” said Mary Reed, the co-author of more than twenty legal and financial books (including the book she coauthored with the author of this article, .) But generally, she points out, you aren’t responsible for the debts of relatives who died unless you were a cosigner, or the debt belonged to your spouse who died and you live in a community property state.