I'm so glad this group is still here ... I was debt free for a long time but now I am back. I am hoping people here can provide help/advice with what I suddenly have to deal with...
I'm in Canada and I am wondering if there is any statute of limitations or rules around collection of an old debt? I got a phone call for my husband this afternoon from a debt collection agency. I got her name & number and got her to tell me what company the debt was from because I am in charge of all the money and there is no way we should be getting debt collection calls. We're flat broke and scraping by and I am living by MaryAnne's guiding rules (bless her, she taught me a lot) but I keep the bills paid up...Anyway, he called the number back and a rude, nasty man told him it was from a cell phone company from FOUR years ago. He honestly doesn't remember any outstanding debt, nor ever receiving phone calls about it. He told the man clearly that he doesn't know anything about this debt, was never contacted by the phone company about it, etc. He asked for documentation about the bill and how to fix it but the man just told him to pay the amount owing and hung up on him.
So he called the company that the debt originated from to try to find out more information. He got a timeline, phone number for the account, but he was told that the debt is so old that the phone company cannot access the old invoices that show where the debt originated from. He was told the debt was "written off" in 2009. The man he spoke to said they made "many" attempts to reach him, but he was never contacted, and I never saw any invoices in the mail, which I would have from that time period. I think if he had been receiving calls about an outstanding debt from that company at that time he would have told me about it.
Neither the phone company nor the collection agency will provide any documentation for the debt. They both just say to pay it. He said to both of them that he's not just going to write a cheque because of some random phone call about a four+ year old bill without receiving proof. If they provide invoices that show he owes it, we will have to pay it...
However, it seems totally outrageous that if they wrote the debt off 4 years ago that we are suddently getting collection calls about it. Is there a time period after which an outstanding debt cannot be collected? And do the companies-either the original one or the collection agency-have to provide documentation about the source of the debt? Also, this must be showing on the credit bureaus as a bad debt, which is extremely wrong because he didn't know anything about it, and has been trying to rebuild his credit rating for the past five years...so would never have let this bill go to collections. If the company had tried to contact him, he would have known.
I could really use some good advice about how to proceed with this as the original company was no help in trying to sort this out. How do I find out what our rights around collection of old debt are? Can I dispute this with the credit agencies? I've been trying so hard to keep my credit and rebuild his that this is just such a shock, I'm at a bit of a loss. Apart from being told we owe money and to "pay up" without being provided documentation, the collection agency now knows they can reach him at our phone number so heaven help us in that regard because they are going to keep calling. I've googled the collection agency, the lovely internet tells me they are one of the most disreputable around.