A 20-Year-Old Charged-Off Debt

Lisa asks if a credit card company has charged off a debt, can they then sell that debt and have someone come after her for it? The debt is more than 20 years old.

QUESTION: Lisa in Dallas asks if a credit card company has charged off a debt, can they then sell that debt and have someone come after her for it? The debt is more than 20 years old. Dave says they can because they didn’t give up their right to collect.

ANSWER: Absolutely. Charging it off doesn’t mean they gave up their right to collect the debt. It means it’s no longer on their books as an asset. It means they think you’re a deadbeat. That’s all charge-off means. They don’t think they’re going to collect, but it doesn’t mean they give up their legal right to collect. They can’t garnish your wages, and they can’t put a lien on your home in Texas.

You do owe them money. The thing is this: There’s a statute of limitations on collecting a debt that they’re probably past. It’s probably seven years. I’m not sure; I’m not an attorney in your state. But they’re probably past that. That’s problem number-one for them. Problem number-two is when someone buys a 20-year-old bad credit card debt, they pay about 5 cents on the dollar for it. They’re bottom feeders. This is the worst of the worst of the debt buyers. You’re dealing with total punks. Just hang up on them unless they want to talk reasonable, but you can probably settle this for 10 or 15 cents on the dollar of what they say is owed and get it out of your life.

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