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Debt Collectors

Fair Debt Collection Practices (Pennsylvania)

Time Limit On Collecting A Debt and the Maximum Amount You Can Be Charged (Consumer-SOS)

Frequently Asked Questions on Owing Money & Debt Collection
Find out things like: How long before your overdue bill is sent to a collection agency? Whether a credit card company or the IRS can force the sale of your home in order to pay your bill? And what to do if you think a debt collector has violated the law?

Get Debt Collectors To Be Nice Over The Phone By Asking Them Permission To Record The Call (& Which States Don't Require Permission)
Tired of harassing calls? Learn when you can record a phone conversation which can later be used in an FDCPA lawsuit for unfair debt collection practices. Just asking for permission should make them extra nice, given they have no idea if you're recording them anyway.

Credit Repair (Consumer-SOS)

Options, Tips & Advice (Consumer-SOS)
Negotiating your debt, credit counseling, bills to pay off first, etc.

Where To Go For Help (Consumer-SOS)
Getting help from the government, non-profits and the media.

Debt Collection FAQs (Nolo.com)

Debt Collectors/Your Rights/Form Letters
(May Take A While To Download)

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Regulates Debt Collectors)
Describes what debt collectors may and may not do if you owe money. It applies only to third party debt collectors (i.e., collection agencies), or those who use a name other than their own in collecting consumer debts. Very few commercial banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, or credit unions are covered by this Act, since they usually collect only their own debts. Complaints concerning debt collection practices, such as harassment or abuse, should generally be filed with the Federal Trade Commission.

Using The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Debt Collection Letter
Use this letter to ask collection agencies to provide you with information concerning their basis for claiming that you owe a debt ("verification of the debt") and also ask them to stop contacting you. This only applies to collection agencies, not to creditors who directly sold you goods or gave you credit or loaned you money.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Letter
If you're not from GA, address your letter to the Federal Trade Commission Nearest You

Fair Credit Reporting Act
Establishes procedures for correcting mistakes on an individual's credit record. A credit record may be retained seven years for judgments, liens, suits and other adverse information except for bankruptcies, which may be retained ten years. If a consumer has been denied credit, a free credit report may be requested within 30 days of denial.

Fair Credit Reporting Act Amendment(1996)
Strengthens privacy provisions and defines more clearly the responsibilities and liabilities of businesses that provide information to-and access data from-credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Employers, or prospective employers must obtain an applicant's written consent prior to obtaining credit information, background, and medical information regarding an applicant.

Fair Credit Billing Act
Establishes procedures for the prompt correction of errors on open-end credit accounts. It also protects a consumer's credit rating while the consumer is settling a dispute.

State & Federal Laws Governing Credit Matters (All 50 States)
Select your state and see what additional protections your state offers in addition to federal law. For federal laws, scroll down to their federal section and click on the link of your choice.

Bad Check Laws (State By State Statutes For Each Crime)

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Time Limit On Collecting A Debt and the Maximum Amount You Can Be Charged

Mr. Smith,

From what I understand,

You have a credit card bill that goes back eleven years. Your original bill was for $600.00 and now a collection agency wants 1800.00 from you. You've asked me if there's a limit to how long they can collect on past due bills and if there's a legal limit on what they can charge you.

I see three issues here that may relate to your situation.  However, I make no promises I'm right.  I suggest you call your local Federal Trade Commission or Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division to confirm anything I tell you. 
Can They Charge Me So Much Over the Original Amount of The Bill? My original debt was $600 and they're now asking me for $1800!
The fact is that they can charge anything they want unless they're in violation of the applicable State and Federal Usury Laws (Laws On Charging Excessive Interest Rates).  The real question is whether or not you're required to pay it at all. See Issue #3
How long can they keep this debt on my credit report?
I believe the answer is only 7 years from the date you stopped making any payments. It could also be 7 years from the date you first became delinquent, even if you continued making payments. Check your credit report and complain to the proper authorities below if it's still being reported past the 7 year date.
See http://mix6.com/credit/ageing for more on the time limits debts can remain on your credit report.
Even If they can't keep reporting it, can they still sue me?  This is where the state Statute of Limitations comes in. SOL's vary from state to state and are also based on the type of debt you have.
Thus, it's important to know which state's SOL applies and whether it's a court judgment, credit card debt, or if you signed a promissory note, etc. Here's what I found at the link below. Please read what it says very carefully and be sure to look at the STATE SOL Chart. It is possible the SOL Chart is outdated and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any link listed here.  Note: Most credit card debts are considered "OPEN ENDED ACCOUNTS, which is the last column on the chart.


What state should I use in figuring out the Statute of Limitations?

According to Ron Opher, of www.ron4law.com: the FDCPA applies when a 3rd party debt collector is involved. Thus, the only relevant jurisdictions are where the consumer signed the loan application and where the consumer currently lives (bank location is irrelevant). If those states are different, I believe the creditor has the choice of where to sue and can select from the state with the longer SOL. There may also be an argument that the contract was signed "under seal" which might lead to a longer Statute of Limitations than an ordinary contract.
Note: The FDCPA (Federal Debt Collections Practice Act) applies only to third parties who collect debts for others. This law governs some law firms, debt collectors and collection agencies. It does not govern the actions of the original creditor such as the bank or store who you directly owed the money to. 

Normally credit cards have agreements which state that in the event of a dispute, the laws of State ________ will apply. While the contract may or may not be binding as to which SOL applies, play it safe. Look for the credit laws and SOL in the state listed in your original agreement or loan application.


Other Credit Laws That May Apply

See Credit Laws (Consumer-SOS)


Who To Contact For Help

I also suggest you contact your State's Consumer Protection Agency. This could be your State' Attorney General or Your Secretary of State's Office. You may also contact your State or City's Legal Aid Department.

Also See Where To Go For Help (Consumer-SOS)
Let Me Know If This Helps or You Have Other Questions.


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Debt Collectors-Pennsylvania