There's a bigger push to collect on what you owe.
Behind on your payments? Have some debt that may be a decade old-- or older? The experts will tell you chances are better now than ever that someone may come calling. In fact, one expert said debt collection has become a big business for some companies.
"They're buying older debts, they're paying nothing on the dollar, and every penny they make becomes profit," said consumer law expert Richard Alderman at the University of Houston Law Center.
"Many debt collectors will actually try to re-age debts by saying 'oh that was the debt to so and so back… but now it’s been assigned to me and it's a new debt," Alderman said. However, Alderman said the law simply does not work that way, and generally, debts that are at least seven years old will drop from your credit report.
And more and more of you may find yourselves going to court after being sued by collectors. Alderman said you can thank the raising of the jurisdiction in justice courts from five to ten-thousand dollars for that.
"I never heard any hue and cry from consumers for this increase, and personally I think a lot of it was debt collectors and creditors that want an easier way of suing people in court for this money."
At the state level, officials in the Attorney General's Office said they are keeping a close watch on the issue.
"There is such a thing as a legitimate debt which should be repaid, but debt collectors have to follow the law in receiving payment on that debt," said Tom Kelley in the Attorney General's Office. If you do end up in court, Kelley said debt collectors are generally following the rules—in most cases there’s a four-year statute of limitations on filing suit--but there are some big no-no’s officials are looking out for, including "profane phone calls, calling neighbors over and over, and employers."
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