Question: I live in Ontario, and the collection agency said that the debt occurred in 1996 and was written off in 1998. I do not think this was an unpaid debt, but after all this time what can I do? How can I prove that it was or was not paid now?
Can the collection agency still come to me after this many years?
Can they put a judgement against me after all this time, and will this affect my current credit score?
If this turns out to be an old unpaid debt, can I settle for a lesser amount?
Collections Agencies And Old Debt
You have a number of options. First, you can do nothing. It is highly unlikely that a collection agency will take you to court for a 12 year old debt. In fact, it is possible that the Statute of Limitations has expired on the debt, although you would need to consult a lawyer for more information.
You can also negotiate a settlement with them, if you so choose. However, to start, be careful not to acknowledge that the debt might be yours. You should request proof that you owe the money. Given the age of the debt, they may not have the original paperwork, and in fact you may not even owe the money, so getting proof of the debt is your first step.
Here are some further resources that may help:
- Our article on the Statute of Limitations on Debt.
- A useful book about dealing with collection agencies by Mark Silverthorn: The Wolf at the Door: What to Do When Collection Agencies Come Calling.