I have talked about this before. The statute of limitations provides a certain time for a debt collector to collect on a debt. In California, it is generally four years on a debt. So, at four years and 5 days, the statute of limitations has expired. However, I get calls from people who are receiving calls from debt collectors on old debts. Can they do this?
I would tell you no. But, alas, the American Collectors Association disagrees with me. In “A Guide to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 137”, 1999, they write:
ACA maintains the position that collectors can contact consumers about accounts after the statute of limitations has expired, as long as no legal remedies, such as a lawsuit or wage garnishment are taken or threatened.
So, they think debt collectors can attempt to collect on old debts, but not sue on them. Some debt collection attorneys, however, take it one step further and believe they can sue on these old debts. They put the burden on the consumer to raise the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense. Because, if it is not raised, it is waived.
Anyone else see why they may have a bad reputation? For what its worth, as long as this is the position of debt collectors, any time you receive an initial phone call or letter from a debt collector, you should immediately seek the advice of counsel. You do not want to end up paying on a debt that is past the statute of limitations.