You live in CA. The statute of limitations on debt is 4 years.
Your payday loan if you owed it, is no longer subject to a lawsuit.
Also, the debt collector has an obligation to warn you, now, that the debt is barred by the statute of limitations.
This sounds like both a scam and a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Some of these PayDay loan companies were scams way back when, run by ruthless people. I have no doubt your information was sold over and over again, probably numerous times.
If you feel you're being scammed, report them to the CA Attorney General's Office.
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I disagree with my colleague in part. You are still subject to a lawsuit and will owe the money if they sue you and you do not show up to court. You will get a default judgment against you and at that point, you are out of luck. However, if you were to show up to court, you have an Affirmative Defense...the statute of limitations in California is 4 years to collect a debt arising from a contract...if you assert this defense, it is a complete defense and the case is dismissed. DO NOT IGNORE A LAWSUIT IF IT IS FILED. Additionally, they can still report the debt on your credit report and tack on late payments or key derogatories in perpetuity...that part has nothing to do with a statute of limitations and is totally separate.
When dealing with any debt collector, it is always a good idea to request that the communication be in writing. That is because it has become commonplace for data to be stolen and used by "scammers" to collect debts that they they do not own.
If Harris and Goldberg is a legitimate debt collector, collecting on behalf of a payday lender, it should be able to provide you with written statement identifying their client, stating the balance owed and appropriate disclosures (regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). If this firm/company refuses to send you a written demand, do not pay them or agree to pay them. If calls continue, request that the caller provide either a street address, a PO box number or a fax number. You can then proceed to send a "cease and desist" letter.
If you need additional help or advice, contact a consumer attorney or debt collection defense attorney.
This answer is for general information purposes only and is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or formed by the posting of this answer. Law Office of Lisa J. Espada * San Francisco, CA *
There is a 4 year statute of limitations. And, these payday lenders rarely sue. They cannot produce evidence which is admissible in court at a trial. They do not have witnesses who can authenticate documents and who are willing to appear. Their court fees would be more than the amount of the claim because an assignee cannot use Small Claims Court.
If contacted, try to get the full identifying information about the caller. Full name, real address (not just a po box), of the present owner of the account, and the chain of ownership.
If they do not want to use the mail, maybe a postage stamp is beyond their budget, or maybe they are afraid of being changed with mail fraud (using the mail to defraud), which can result in serious time in federal prison.
I agree with all colleagues here. Do not inadvertently allow a default to enter. You do have a defense. Under the fair debt collection practices act you may also have damages. If this creditor /s are harassing you do see local counsel. This may prevent them from continuing a fraudulent practice. Wishing you the best. Good luck