Question: My boyfriend and I got a call from a collection agency last night. They claim he owes $3K on a credit card from 1994 – 16 years ago. He swears this to be untrue – he was 16 years old! Also, he has a line of credit with the alleged creditor, so wouldn’t they have worked it out with him years ago?
Anyways, the collection agency said they are sending a letter in the mail, and that if it isn’t him (mistaken identity) he has to get a signed affidavit claiming that the debt is not his and send it back to them all within 20 days. Does he really need to take a day off of work and pay someone for a signed affidavit? His credit report is clear, but they said they can “add it back on, reopening the debt” – is this true?
The collection agency also said that if they do not have a response within 20 days, than they will be calling us 3 times a week until the debt is paid. What can we do here? It wasn’t him, so what are our rights? please help!
Answer: Sadly, these are not uncommon collection agency tactics. Collection agencies have been known to call about a debt that isn’t real, or that isn’t your debt. It’s easy for them to make a phone call; it’s much more difficult for them to actually create phony paperwork to send you, so it’s quite possible that you will not hear from them again.
Also, various locations have Statutes of Limitations. For example, in Ontario a creditor is required to commence legal action within two years, so it’s highly unlikely they will take him to court for a 16 year old debt.
If they do contact you again, you could discuss it with a lawyer experienced in collection matters.