Old Consumer Debt: When Is It Too Old To Collect?

Debt collectors often buy old consumer debt and aggressively try to collect it. Sometimes the debt collector will threaten to sue, or threaten to put the debt on your credit report. How valid is that warning? How do you know when debt is too old to collect? Liz Weston’s article in MSN Money explains that there are two limitations periods you should know about. First, the statute of limitations restricts the time in which a creditor can sue on a debt. In California, creditors must sue within four years to collect on promissory notes, contracts and credit card debt. If...


New Credit Card Rules Proposed by Federal Reserve

Credit card companies are endorsing the Federal Reserve Board’s proposal to mandate better disclosure of credit card terms to consumers, apparently hoping that more disclosure will head off Congressional attempts to outlaw some of the practices consumers complain about the most. Kathleen Day of the Washington Post has been following the dynamic between some lawmakers’ attempts to prohibit some of the worst industry practices and the Federal Reserve’s proposal to disclose those practices but keep them legal. As Kathleen Day’s article (discussed above in Mark Anderson’s May 27 post) points out, some of the worst industry practices include “universal default,”...


What Consumers May Do if Credit Bureaus Won’t Correct their Credit Reports

Credit bureaus are required to correct errors in consumers’ credit reports when the consumers dispute inaccurate items in their credit reports. The errors usually stem from inaccurate reports provided by credit card companies, debt collectors and retailers. Often, the credit bureaus’ investigation of the disputed item is merely to ask the “supplier” of the inaccurate information if the information is accurate. Too often, the supplier tells the credit bureaus the information is accurate which leads to the credit bureaus refusing to correct the reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives the consumer the right to sue the credit bureaus...


Consumers Love Hate Relationship with Credit Cards

The Sunday May 27, 2007, edition of the Washington Post contains an article entitled “A Highly Charged Relationship” about Americans’ love hate relationship with credit cards. What what we all love is the convenience, but we hate are the practices hidden in the fine print such as unfairly high interest rates and penalty fees; confusing policies that constantly change, almost always in the lender’s favor; and near-insurmountable hurdles to getting help when a consumer falls into trouble or when a company makes a billing mistake. The article states that most complaints involve “over limit” fees and penalties; interest charges on...


7th Circuit Holds Credit Bureaus’ Disclosures Must be Clear & Accurate

On May 3, 2007, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian & Trans Union must provide consumers credit disclosures that are not only accurate, but “clear.” In Gillespie v Equifax, the plaintiffs requested their credit reports, which, among other things, listed the “date of last activity” on certain collection accounts. Depending on what event triggered the listing in this category, the report could lack clarity as to when delinquency had occurred. Having clarity on this point could be important to the consumer because, under FCRA, a consumer report may not include “accounts placed...

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