How Long Can a Creditor Attempt to Collect a Debt

18 03 2010

If you have old debts that you haven’t been able to pay off you’re probably wondering how long can a creditor attempt to collect a debt? That depends on where you are, where the debt was incurred and what your state statute of limitations on debt collection is. But it can also depend on the tenacity of the debt collector.

When you owe a debt, a debt collector will try to collect that money from you in as many ways as possible. The debt can even be sold from collection agency to another collection agency and each one will start collection proceedings anew. The first thing a debt collector will do is send you a letter in the mail stating that if they don’t hear from you typically within 30 days they’ll assume the debt is correct and begin collection proceedings.

When you receive that letter that’s a good time to contact the company and negotiate debt payments to avoid further problems. You won’t have to wonder how long can a creditor attempt to collect a debt if you’re actively paying on it. You may want to have them verify that the debt is yours if you’re not sure. Some debt collection agencies deal with so many debts that mistakes can be made. Look for your records to make sure the amount is correct and you truly do owe the money. Working out a payment plan with the debt collector is your best option. Most collectors, as long as you are honoring the payment agreement you made with them, are easy enough to deal with. They may still call and urge you to pay more. Just be sure to get the payment agreement in writing to protect yourself. If you can’t pay the debt or even make small payments on it, you can inform them of this but expect to be contacted regularly.

If you can’t make the payments they want, just how long can a creditor attempt to collect a debt? You might think if the debt is 10 years old and your state statute of limitation is 10 years that they can no longer try to collect the debt. In some cases that might be true. But if you made a payment on that debt three years ago, chances are that reset the ten-year period and you have seven years left to go. You need to check with your state statutes to find out the exact situation as some states don’t even have a limit set for debt collection. Most debt collection agencies will file legal proceedings against you before the statute runs out and attempt to get a judgment against you in court that forces you to pay the debt.

More important than “How long can a creditor attempt to collect a debt?” is how the debt effects your credit rating. Even if the statute of limitations has run out and no one can attempt to collect the debt anymore, it still shows on your credit report for a long time. It can damage your credit and make it more difficult for you to get good interest rates or loans.

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