I've been contacted about a debt I already paid off


(CA)

in 2007 i paid off an account, recently i was contacted that i have an outdtanding unpaid debt, it does not appear on my credit report, i was told i will be sued...what do i do

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Apr 19, 2011
I've been contacted about a debt I already paid off
by: Debtcollectionanswers.com

The first thing to do is ask the debt collector to validate (confirm) the debt you?re being asked to pay. You have a legal right to ask for this under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which also requires the collector to respond to your request in writing, assuming you make it within 30 days of the collector contacting you about the debt for the first time. Put your request in writing, make a copy of the letter for your files and send the letter to the collector via certified mail with a return receipt requested.

If you have any documentation proving that you paid the debt, make copies and include that information with your letter. Proof could be correspondence, cancelled checks, receipts, etc. If you send copies of any cancelled checks, black out your bank account number. Otherwise, the collector might use it to take money out of your account.

If you?re confused by the collector's response, ask for a clearer accounting. Again, put your request in writing and send it certified mail with a return receipt requested.

If the collector doesn?t respond to you or if you continue to believe that you do not owe the debt and the collector continues to say you do, get in touch with a consumer law attorney in your area who helps resolve consumer debt collection problems. One attorney in CA is Robert Brennan, the co-author of the California edition of our ebook, Debt Collection Answers. For a free consultation with him, go to SoCalCollectionAbuse.com or call 888-453-6665.

If for some reason you do in fact owe the debt you?re being contacted about, you should know that some collectors purchase very old debts -- debts for which the statute of limitations has expired -- and then try to scare consumers into admitting that they owe the money or into agreeing to pay the debts, both of which will cause the the statute of limitations on an old debt to begin running again. Once that happens, the debt collectors can sue for the money; otherwise, all they can do is keep asking for the money to be paid.

The statute of limitations on a debt is established by state law and begins on the date that a consumer misses his or her first payment. In California, the statute of limitations on most consumer debts is 4 years, so it may have expired on your particular debt or be close to expiring. If it has expired, the debt collector is breaking the law (both the FDCPA and California's own debt collection law) by threatening you with a lawsuit.

If you are sure that the statute of limitations on the debt you?re being contacted about has run out, you can send the collector a Cease Contact letter noting that fact. However, it?s probably a good idea to contact a consumer law attorney in your area so you can be 100% sure that it?s expired. Go here to read our advice on using a cease and desist letter to stop a debt collector.

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