Ask Laz: What you need to know when a debt collector threatens to file a lawsuit


Heidi says she took out a payday loan in 2010 and then forgot about it. Now she’s getting calls from someone claiming to be a lawyer who threatens to take her to court unless she pays $ 250 straight away and makes extra payments every two weeks.

Heidi wants to know if she should do that – especially since the debt collection employee refuses to send her her declaration of commitment.

ASK LAZ: Intelligent answers to consumer questions

Let’s be clear from the start: people in debt have rights. For example, they must not be threatened or harassed by collectors. More information is available here.

Next, everyone should be aware that there is a statute of limitations on most debts, including credit card debt. Payday loans are usually covered by state laws that deal with debt arising from written contracts. In California, the statute of limitations is four years.

This does not mean the debt will go away – nor does it mean that you can forget about your obligations. If you owe money, you should pay it.

But it does mean you can’t be sued for this anymore.

In Heidi’s case, my guess is that she’s not being called by a lawyer, but by an employee of a bottom-fed company that bought their debts for pennies on the dollar. It tries to squeeze everything out of her before moving on to the next person on their list.

How to proceed: Inform the “lawyer” the next time he calls that you know the limitation period. Request a mailing address so that you can send a cease and desist statement. Also, request proof that the collector holds your debt.

There is a possibility that you will neither receive such proof nor receive a postal address. Keep a record of all of this. if you are sued by these guys, the judge will not consider their behavior kindly.

If you have a consumer question, email me at [email protected] or contact me on twitter @Davidlaz.





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