Can a debt that is over 20 years old be collected? 11 Answers as of May 22, 2013

We received a letter stating they will garnish wages for a small debt from 23 years ago. We believe the debt was apprx 400.00. We are not sure if it was paid. They have no idea what the debt was for and are threatening to garnish wages. Can they do this?

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The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
Sounds like the statute of limitations has run and if they are calling and threatening you, then it is a fdcpa violation for which you can sue them and collect damages for their harassment techniques. You should call a local attorney who handles fdcpa claims.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/28/2012
The Troglin Firm | William M. Troglin
In Georgia a simple contract (Accounts, Credit Cards etc.) have a statute of limitations of 7 years. A contract under seal ( Real Estate, long term contracts etc.) have a statute of limitations of 20 years. If the debt is over 20 years old it is noncollectable.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 9/28/2012
Harris, Yug & Ohlinger
Harris, Yug & Ohlinger | Roberta Ohlinger-Johnson
Most likely, that is beyond any conceivable statute of limitations. But here's what you have to watch Nevada, which is like most states, the statute is calculated from the date of last payment. So even if the contract is really old, like a mortgage, if you made a payment within the Statute period then they can collect. However, there was a big case in the ninth circuit where a credit refund for some reason was treated as a payment, and the collections agency thought it was a payment, and sued and then got sued and were found to have violated the FDCPA. So the devil is in the details, which is why I always recommend that a consumer law attorney be consulted. If there's a violation of the FDCPA present collections agencies almost never pay consumers directly, but they will pay a consumer law attorney if there's a violation. Best wishes to you.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/28/2012
Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr.
Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr. | John C. Farrell, Jr.
Under federal law you have the right to request verification of the debt. With respect to the time period to enforce this debt since it was so long ago. I would suggest disputing the debt. Also, in order to garnish someone's wages a lawsuit must be filed and then judgment enters. If the creditor chooses this route you should defend it under the expiration of the statute of limitations defense.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 9/27/2012
Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
Most likely if there has been no action on the debt for over 20 years, the statute of limitations would prevent them from obtaining a judgment. If suit were to be filed, you should defend on the basis of the statute of limitations. Such a defense would be plead initially as either an affirmative defense or by motion for summary disposition. If there was a judgment entered 20 years ago and no action was taken on the judgment, it would have expired after 10 years and could not now be collected. If action is taken to attempt to collect on the judgment, again, you should file a motion asking that the action be terminated as the judgment is no longer valid.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/27/2012
    Law Office of Bijal Jani | Bijal Jani
    From the information you have provided, it appears that the statute of limitations has run out on this debt. You should consult with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/27/2012
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 5/22/2013
    Olson Law Firm | Edward M Olson
    Theoretically... it IS possible. However, it is more likely to be a scam. Demand copies of the documents they rely on to prove the debt.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/27/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Seek counsel. The the debt appears to be too old to collect.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/27/2012
    Knute Rife
    Knute Rife | Knute Rife
    They can only garnish if they have a judgment. You need to sit down with an attorney and discuss what defenses you can raise.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 9/27/2012
    Neuhaus Law Office
    Neuhaus Law Office | Gregory M. Neuhaus
    Depending on your jurisdiction and whether you, in any way, reaffirmed the debt, it should be uncollectable. If they don't have a judgment they will not be able to garnish wages.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 9/27/2012
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