Common Questions About Consumer Debt | McCarthy Law, PLC
August 15, 2016

Common Questions About Consumer Debt

My Ex Husband took our credit card debt in the divorce, but he has stopped paying those cards. Now they are coming after me.

Unfortunately, this is a very common divorce debt situation. Just because your divorce decree states that your husband is responsible for the debt does not let you off the hook for that debt. Your divorce decree is an agreement between you and your ex. It does not affect the relationship you have with your credit card company. If you were obligated to pay on the account before the divorce, you are still obligated to pay until the account in paid-in-full.

In this situation, the best thing for you to do is talk to your divorce attorney. Your divorce attorney can tell you what options you have to force your ex to do what they said they would and pay the bill on your marital debt. In the end, until the account is paid off, any late payments your ex makes will have a negative effect on your credit.

A debt collector contacted me about an old debt; do I have to pay it?

The answer to this question is – it depends. Whether you are still legally obligated to pay on a debt depends on your state’s statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the period of time a creditor is entitled for file a lawsuit over that debt.

You can think of the statute of limitations as a countdown until you are no longer obligated to pay the debt. The countdown starts, typically, at the last payment you made on the account. When the countdown runs out, your creditors can no longer sue you on that debt. Whether your debt is truly outside of the statute of limitations is a question for a qualified attorney. Each state and each type of debt has different laws that dictate the statute of limitations that applies.

Even though your debt is outside the statute of limitations, debt collectors can still attempt to collect on the debt. The statute of limitations only prevents them from filing a lawsuit. Even at that, some creditors file lawsuits after the statute of limitations. If a creditor files a lawsuit against you, and you think the debt is beyond the statute of limitation, speak to a licensed attorney in your state.

How do I know if a debt collector is real or a scam?

Your first contact with a debt collector can be a scary experience. You get on the phone with someone telling you that you owe money, and that they are prepared to use the full extent of the law to collect that money. If it is your debt, and you do want to pay, you then have to decide whether this debt collector is a legitimate collection agency. If they are not, you could just be throwing money away.

If you suspect the debt collector calling you is not legitimate, there are a few questions you will want to ask them. Any legitimate debt collector will tell you their name, the company name, the company’s street address, and a telephone number at which you can reach them. If the person you are talking to refuses to give you any of this information, this raises a big red flag. If the caller refuses, or you cannot validate this information, do not give them any money or bank information.

If they provide some of this information and you still are not sure if they are legitimate or not, you can request they send a written validation notice to you. This validation will include information about the amount of the debt, who the debt is owed to, and what your rights are under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If you are struggling with consumer debt, and you would like to speak to an attorney for guidance, McCarthy Law can help you. A debt settlement attorney can help you resolve your debts and protect your interests.

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