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Even threatening to sue you to collect a debt may be illegal if the collector has no intention of doing so.
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.
“Stale debt is not collectible,” said Atlanta bankruptcy attorney Jonathan Ginsburg.
“Every state has a statute of limitations that make debt of a certain age not collectible.
“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.
You can learn more about what happens to debt after death here.