Debt Re-aging Dangers: Use Caution When Contacted About Old Past-Due Bills

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Pay off the debt. Even though the collector may not be able to sue you, you may decide to pay off the debt. Some collectors may be willing to accept less than the amount you owe to settle the debt, either in one large payment or a series of small ones. Make sure you get a signed form or letter from the collector before you make any payment. This document should state that the entire debt is being settled and that the amount to be paid will release you from any further obligation. Without this document, the amount paid may be treated as a partial payment on the debt, instead of a complete payment. Keep a record of the payments you make to pay off the debt.

The FTC's brochure goes on to discuss what you should do if you are actually sued for a time-barred debt, but let's hope you take the steps above and never let it get to that point. Here are additional helpful FTC consumer education links: • Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for ConsumersDealing with Debt Collectors (video)

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