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A Collections Call…


Once upon a time, a very long time ago, my husband’s family member took out several cell phones in his name. The bill wasn’t paid and went into collections in 2002. After we married and I took on the responsibility of bill payments and credit checks, I found the collections record on his credit report in 2005. At that time, we weren’t making much, living in a tiny apartment, and didn’t have more than $1,000 to pay off the collections debt.

The collections record finally fell off my husband’s credit report in February of 2009 and I assumed we could move on.

Dave Ramsey says collections follow you for the rest of your life.

I didn’t believe him…

Until my husband received 8 phone calls from a collections agency this week.

I told them my husband’s address was correct as listed on his credit report and if they had anything to send us, to send it through the mail because I sure as Hades wasn’t going to give them any information or promises of payment over the phone. Not surprisingly, they didn’t appreciate my response.

This… is when I start banging my head against the wall.


  • Reply Maria |

    Dave Ramsey also says that these agencies will often settle for pennies on the dollar and that you need to get your arrangement IN WRITING and NEVER give them access to any of your bank accounts. Why not make a low ball offer–after 8 years or so anything they get from you is probably more than they can reasonably expect at this point….

  • Reply Mike Dunham |

    Screw that – if it fell off the credit report you should ask them (in writing) to prove the debt before you even THINK about paying them one red cent. If they can’t, and they continue to call, they are in violation of federal law, and you can sue.

  • Reply anonymous |

    I’m with Mike.

    My guess is that this debt is beyond the statute of limitations and thus they cannot collect on it unless you make a payment — ANY size payment — which will renew the debt.

    Many debt collectors will purchase questionable debt for pennies on the dollar and will pursue it, even if they don’t have the appropriate documentation, to see if you will make a payment on it.

    The federal law to which Mike is referring is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It is worth knowing about and perhaps referring to the next time they call.

  • Reply Kamantha |

    This same thing happened to me. When I was in college in 1995 my roommate stole my SSN to get a cellphone. I didnt know that it was on my credit report until I went to buy a house in 2001. It didnt appear on my credit report until AFTER I bought the house in 2001. I know this because it never showed up during underwriting and getting approval for the mortgage. After buying the home, the agency said that I owe. I went through the proper channels and asked for a validation of the debt, copy of the account history, etc. All the agency sent me was a bill for $785. AS if I was going to pay for a bill from 1995 that I didnt even own. So it will just stay on there until it is due to fall off. But it hasnt hampered me when I was refinancing my home, getting a fed govt job or numerous credit cards (even though now they are now paid off..YEA!!). Every 2 years they send me a bill and every 2 years I send them the same letter asking for debt validation. So we will play this game until it is paid off. I put the note on all of my credit reports saying that I dispute the bill.

    I used to be concerned but now I dont even sweat it at this point because if you make a payment or promise to pay the clock starts all over. Collection agencies suck!!!

  • Reply Rox |

    I’m an avid reader of your blog, but I have never commented.

    I would check your states statute of limitations. I know in South Carolina the statute of limitations on a debt is three years.

  • Reply Melissa |

    Sounds like the original debt was bought by what is referred to as a Zombie debt collector. There are a couple of things you can do. First, find out the statute of limitations in your state for suing on a debt and find out if the new agency is reporting it on your credit report. Then send them a letter such as the one here (http://www.creditinfocenter.com/forms/sampleletter20.shtml). This should help a lot. Keep it handy as you never know when a debt will be resold.

  • Reply Maria |

    Did they actually say it was from that debt? Beware of scams out there. If they cannot tell you what the debt is for or want your personal information, I think it’s a scam.

    Before you know it, it WILL BECOME your debt. Please dont assume that it’s yours anyway.

  • Reply Valerie |

    I recently got a collection call for BMG Music Club. They claim I owe $15. I have never received an invoice, its not on my credit report and BMG Music isn’t even in business anymore. They could not tell me when the $15 was charged or what it was used to purchase. I told them if they sent me a statement I would be happy to look into it further. That was two months ago…haven’t seen anything!

  • Reply Doug |

    A couple of things can be done. One, check the statute of limitations for your state to see if the debt has expired. If the debt has expired, then just send them a letter telling them. Send it registered mail so you get back a receipt that they received your letter.
    Second, use the Fair Debt Collection Act and send them a letter telling them not to call you at home or at work. Again, send it via registered mail so you have evidence they received your letter. Also, keep a copy of the letter you send them.
    When companies buy debt, they don’t do it individually, they buy by the bulk. Your debt just gets mixed into a lot of other debt. Every once in a while, after we have negotiated a debt and fully settled it with payment, some other collection company will “buy” the debt and start trying to collect. We keep our records really well so we just send them a copy of the settlement and payment and they go away. It’s always good to keep records of transactions with collection companies.
    Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it. Tell them not to call you and they have to obey per Federal Law. If they continue, you can sue them.

  • Reply Jeff |

    You could file a police report becuase this is considered ID theft. He wouldn’t be responsible then. If you go this route they will require a police report…and the family member could get in trouble with the law.

  • Reply Mike |

    I would not worry too much, as it sounds like a Junk Debt Buyer. You were absolutly correct in NOT giving any information over the phone, but demading it it writing by mail. Don’t bang your head against the wall, rather bang your fist on the table and say,”I am not taking this anymore!”

  • Reply John@Financial Elite |

    Dave isn’t kidding. My wife has had collection agencies file for judgements just before the statute of limitations were about to run out. I have also seen agencies sell the debt to other agencies and start the clock all over again, which is screwy. Dave does say to have them prove the debt is indeed yours, but he also says if you owe the debt, you owe the debt and it needs to be paid. I would at least try to settle with them.

  • Reply Lizzie |

    Isn’t there any chance of getting your husband’s family member to pony up the money for HIS debt?

So, what do you think ?