If you have been sued, the "best legal action" you need to take is defend the suit. Advertisements or your credit reports are not relevant to that (other than perhaps giving you notice that you have been sued). Otherwise, we don't know what defenses or claims you may have.
Old debts do not get remoed from credit reports in five years (the time period is 7 years) and even if they are not on the report, you can be sued. Many debts have a statute of limitations longer than 5 years (for example most credit cards are 6 years). You may or may not have defenses, but one thing is certain. If you do not retain a lawyer within 30 days you will probably lose the suit, and then see garnishment of your pay and bank accounts.
Depending on what the lawyer tells you, you may end up filing bankruptcy or defending the case or settling. But do NOT do this yourself. Feel free to contact me if you need help (404-768-3509).
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There are several separate, but related, legal issues in your question.
First, regarding the law suit, once you are served with the court papers, you will face your first court deadline in thirty (30) days from the service. Before that deadline runs, the "best legal action" would be for you to retain an experienced debt defense attorney to defend that case.
Second, regarding your credit report, accounts are not subject to removal just because they are "past the five year mark." Accounts can be removed if they are inaccurate or if they are obsolete (which basically means older that seven and one-half years).
Skaar & Feagle, LLP maintains offices in Marietta (770 427 5600) and Decatur (404 373 1970), Georgia. The information ("the answer") provided above is for general information and educational purposes only. The answer should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Posting the question and reviewing the answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. My firm will ask you to sign a written contract prior to the commencement of representation in any attorney-client relationship. Please contact 770 427 5600 or 404 373 1970, if you wish to discuss your situation further. Skaar & Feagle, LLP accepts select consumer rights cases. These cases include, but are not limited to, cases of abusive and unlawful collection activity, debt defense, credit reporting of false or obsolete (old) information, high interest lenders (title pawns, payday loans), debt management plans, and fraud or unfair practices in the sale and financing of automobiles.
I agree with my colleagues. The statute of limitations in GA is 6 years for credit card debt. Why did you contact the credit bureaus? If the information was accurate, the debt can be reported for 7 years from the date of charge-off (charge-off occurs 6 months after your last payment).
Many lawyers, especially bankruptcy lawyers, subscribe to a court service to tell them when lawsuits are filed against debtors. If you have $10,000 in dischargeable debt, you might want to consider bankruptcy.
If you do not file bankruptcy and do absolutely nothing, then the creditor may get a judgment against you. With a judgment, the creditor can garnish wages, seize assets owned free and clear and levy your bank account. So unless you are entirely judgment proof and only get exempt income, doing nothing is not an option.
If you don't want to file bankruptcy, then you got to do something. If you have valid defenses and objections (like if the debt was bought by a junk debt buyer who cannot prove its your debt), then hire a lawyer to litigate. How much is sought? Do you have at least 50% of the funds right now? If so, you may want to consider just settling. If you don't have the funds to settle then perhaps a payment arrangement can be worked out.
If you are interested in resolving the lawsuit in a non-bankruptcy non-litigation context, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS - who is the law firm suing you? Frederick Hanna? Zwicker? Greene & Cooper? Someone else? Who is the creditor? All of this makes a difference in knowing what a creditor is likely to settle for.