Is this the only debt you have hanging out there?
If not, seek out a consultation with a local bankruptcy attorney. They can help you evaluate your overall situation.
Tim L. Eblen
I hate to sound like a shill, but my colleague, Charles Smith, in Ohio has written a wonderful article on settling credit card debt that I highly recommend. The link is below. Hope this perspective helps!
Did you request documentation supporting this $1300 claim? It sounds like fees for an account which you thought you had closed -- this is not uncommon.
I would not recommend you pay a dime until you get written confirmation of this debt. That does not mean any collector "owes" you pages and pages showing every charge! Just that at this point, your story is that a debt of $50 has, in 3 years, become $1300. That sounds odd, doesn't it?
Have you gotten a written debt collection letter from this collection agency? It should come within 5 days of their first contact (the phone call, apparently). If it does not, that is a violation of law but, to be honest, it is easy for those letters to be mailed to old addresses, especially for people just out of school.
I would recommend writing the collection agency and requesting validation of the debt. Be clear that you honestly do not know why this debt is owed and you would like their help in understanding -- no need to be a jerk about it or use legal language. Just ask for validation.
If they continue to contact you after getting the letter and before providing the validation, again that is likely a violation of law.
If the collectors continue their threatening tones and do not validate, or if you are sued, you can find a local lawyer on National Association of Consumer Advocate's website.
Best of luck to you!
The above statements are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended as legal advice or advice of any sort for a specific case or legal matter. If you do not have a signed attorney-client fee agreement with the Hill Country Consumer Law ("the Firm"), then until such written fee agreement is provided and signed by both a prospective client and attorney for a particular case, neither Ms. Kleinpeter nor the Firm will represent you nor will they be your attorney in any matter and you remain responsible for retaining your own attorney and for compliance with any and all deadlines and for any statutes of limitations that may pertain to potential claims.
I agree with 100% with Amy's answer. I would only add the website to the National Association of Consumer Attorneys. The website is naca.net.