Collection Agency Can Try to Recover Old Debt

Dear Experian,

My son has an account that was delinquent and charged off over 10 years ago. Yet, this evening we received a call from a credit agency looking for him regarding this debt. This is ridiculous! They said that they can continue to try to contact him no matter what. This debt is over 10 years old. What rights does my son have?


Dear NES,

Some states have statutory time limits for debt collection. I suggest you check your state's laws in that regard. If there is not state-mandated time limit, the collection agency has the right to try to collect on the debt your son owes. The collection agency purchased the account, and if he doesn't pay the debt, it will have to absorb the loss.

However, the account will no longer appear on your son's credit report. Collection accounts are deleted seven years from the original delinquency date of the debt. That ensures the collection account is deleted at the same time as the original account that your son failed to pay and that was subsequently charged off as a bad debt.

In most instances, collection efforts stop after the seven year period because the chances of collecting the debt become less and less the older it gets. If there is a chance some of the debt may be recovered, they may still try, though.

I'm assuming that your son is an adult and that he was not a minor when the original account was opened. If so, your son has two choices. He can either pay the debt, or he can ignore the debt collector's calls.

As a parent, I know that you want to help your son. But, in this case, he is in the wrong. He owes a debt and the collection agency has the right to try to convince him to pay it.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team