recently got a call from a debt collector regarding outstanding tuition payment to a college from 1997 in Illinois. Am I responsible for this debt or has it passed the statute of limitations? This was not a student loan.
Odds are this is time-barred. However, the debt collection industry is very aggressive, and it is not uncommon for them to pursue collection on old debts. There is an entire industry of debt-buers, who purchase for cheap money old debts of a variety of types, including credit cards, medical and hospital bills, deficiency judgments, etc. They generally send one or two notices or make one or two calls and then sue.
While debts do have a statute of limitations in every state, there are ways to revive the devt even if the statute of limitations has expired, by acknowledging the debt, making a promise ot pay, or making a payment. Often times they get debtors to make a small payment or even a promise of a payment, and then there is a problem. They are very good at what they do, are aggressive and persistent. Many consumers agree to pay these debts, not realizing that they did not have to do so, and not realizing that the agreement revives the debt. When they are sued, many consumers go unrepresented to court-sponsored mediation, where mediators press consumers to make an agreement, which of course, seriously compounds the problem.
There is a small group of attorneys around the country who specialize in defense of debt collection. You would be best served by not doing another thing involving this situation without the advice of counsel.
The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization. NACA maintains a web site at www.naca.net where it lists geographically consumer law attorneys all over the US. If you don't already have an attorney, please look there for someone in your area who specializes in consumer debt collection defense to review the details with you and advise you.
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