Are you being hounded by a debt collector for an old debt you thought was written off years ago? If so, it is likely you are being contacted by a scavenger debt collector, which is a company that purchases older, mostly noncollectable debt for a tiny fraction of its value. Scavenger debt collectors are notorious for using illegal and unethical methods to collect 'time-barred' debt.
You do not have to pay debt that is considered too old by your state. Every state has laws governing the time in which a person or entity can file suit to collect a debt. Generally, a creditor or debt collector gives up his right to file suit to collect a debt after a period of six years from the time the debt was written off;or the date of last activity on your credit report), but various states allow anywhere from 2 to 15 years to collect delinquent debt;see statutes of limitation table below).
The purpose of these statutes of limitation is to bring some measure of fairness to the debtor so that he / she;1) will not have to worry about being sued for the rest of their lives; 2) so that the debtor can properly defend himself with fresh evidence and witnesses, if any.
This doesn't mean that a creditor cannot file suit against you after the statute of limitations has expired; however, if a creditor or debt collector does file suit, you can ask the judge to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired. In fact, if the statute of limitations is about to run on debt you owe, don't be surprised if you suddenly hear from a collection agency threatening to sue if you don't pay immediately.
If a debt collector contacts you regarding an old debt, do not admit that you owe the debt and do not agree to make any payments. Simply tell them that the 'statute of limitations has run on this debt and do not contact me again'. If they continue contacting you, send them a certified letter, return receipt requested, telling them not to contact you about the debt again. Remember -- DO NOT ADMIT THAT YOU OWE THE DEBT, DO NOT AGREE TO PAY THE DEBT, AND DO NOT AGREE TO SEND ANY MONEY TO THEM. If you do, then the statute of limitations might start running all over again, giving them the legal right to sue you.