Can collection agency add negative items to credit report after orig debt's SOL has expired?

Sorry, this is my 3rd and final (hopefully) question about credit reports :)

I'm in California, and it appears that the state's Statute of Limitations for credit card debt collection is 4 years from the date of the last payment.

So if I had a debt that wasn't fully paid in 2001, it's on my credit report from the original creditor. This is fine, as I know it can stay for 7 years. But, since the SoL has expired (In July 2005, which was 4 years after the last payment), they have sold it off to a collection agency.

While I also realize that the collections agency can still contact me to "convince" me to pay it, I don't believe legally they can do anything about it now other than harass me. (Hopefully this is correct so far?)

But, can that collections agency legally keep adding new negative items to my credit report? It would seem to me that since the debt is past the SoL and expired, that while they can harass me, they can't actually add items to my credit report about it. Any ideas?


Just something to add:

I realize that they can keep reporting it until the debt is expired. But some of you have stated that the SoL has nothing to do with the debt collectors adding negative items to your credit report, but then say that they may do so when the account is "within the reporting period" does this mean that they can report it until the 7 year mark of the date that the original debt is removed, and then they must stop?

Or again, does this mean that they are bound to some other "reporting period". I'm confused now...

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    They have no right to do that, but trust me, they try.

    Any time that has happened to me, I write the credit reporting agencies to tell them I have a "zombie" debt collection agency after me and explain that the SOL has expired. Every single time, the negative items have been removed from my report.

    Here's part of a letter I wrote to TransUnion:

    "1) The item I dispute is circled on the attached copy of the credit report and is further identified as X. This item is inaccurate because X bought an old debt from a previous creditor after the statute of limitations had expired, knowing that collection of this debt is not enforceable, and is reporting it as a new account opened on MM/DD/YYYY.

    Enclosed are copies of the following documents supporting my position:

    A. Letter from Y, which attempted to collect on behalf of X.

    B. “Request for validation” letter sent to Y, for which I have not received a response.

    If I’m incorrect in my claim that this information is inaccurate, then please inform me how, as a consumer, I am protected against any debt collector who wants to purchase an old debt 20 years from now and report it as new debt."

    By the way, this only works as long as the original delinquency took place over 7 years ago.

  • echo
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    States collecting SOL have nothing to do with the reporting period.

    If the collector owns the debt and it is still within the reporting period, they have a legal right to report it.

    If they are reporting, they MUST report accurately.

    They cannot report, for example, past due, past due balance, open account, factoring company, 1 month terms, etc., etc., etc.

    If they are reporting and the original creditor is reporting also, the original creditor MUST report with a zero balance.

    You have a right to dispute any and all inaccurate info that is being reported by either the collector or the original creditor.

    One poster mentioned that the collecting SOL might be reset. The collecting SOL in Ca. "cannot" be reset once the account has been charged off - even if a payment or an agreement to pay is made. Once it's charged off - that's it.

    Code of Civil Procedure § 337(2).

    RNC, Inc. v. Tsegeletos (1991) 231 Cal.App.3d 967, 972


    SCH posted that they can report the account forever - NO

    Once it has passed the legal reporting period it would be illegal for them to continue to report or for another collector to place it on your reports.

    If they do, you have a legal right to sue them for FDCPA, FCRA and California's own FDCPA violations.

    If you create a solid papertrail of their violations, you would more than likely win.

    Ca. has their own, very strong, version of the FDCPA, you should read it.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, I am not an expert but I will try to give you some food for thought. As far as I know, the SOL expires after the last activity on the account. So most times this would happen after the actual charge-off. If you do something like validate the debt then I believe that the SOL is reopened from that date. I guess I would want to know if you have had any contact with the collectors, and when the actual last date of activity on the account was. If it was in 2001, then yes it is outside the SOL and the idiot collectors are simply buying junk debt for pennies on the dollar and trying to get you to pay up. And I don't think they can actually harass you either. If you can prove the debt is out of statute, then they are illegally pursuing the debt. Get your records in order and get them to prove (in writing) that you still owe the money. Send them no money, and tell them to contact you in writing instead of the phone. They might not have to comply, but if you provide a legit address then they still have a way to contact you. You need to make sure the debt is out of statute, and then you can actually get this mess cleared up. I don't believe they can ding your report again for the same item, kind of like double jeopardy isn't it?

  • 1 decade ago

    What you need to know is whether or not the credit card company got a court judgement against you for the amount. If they did, then the amount is collectible. (and will never expire)

    The next time the collection people contact them, ask them if they have a court judgement. If they say yes, ask for a copy. (they may lie to you). Tell them that if they have a court roder then you understand that the debt will never go away, so you want proof before you contemplate paying.

    As long as the debt remains unpaid, then the collection agency can continue to report that fact on your report every month, until the 7 years are up. Technically they are correct, it is a past due unpaid debt.

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  • 4 years ago

    Actually, there are some very bad answers here. Legally, debts remain on your credit report 7 years from FIRST DATE OF DELINQUENCY. For example, if you became delinquent 30-120 days after due... that would be the start date of 7 years. It's standard that some of these reported dates are off just because of the time it takes to report them to a credit agency. You should expect standard delinquencies to remain 7.5 years after first delinquent. However, if something is reported on your credit report for over 7.5 years from FIRST DATE OF DELINQUENCY it is a mistake. Dispute it. If that doesn't work, get a letter from the company that reported the delinquency that includes the FIRST DATE OF DELINQUENCY and send this to the credit reporting agencies so they have to correct it. If the account was turned over to another company they can not restart the time. BTW... just because the debt is off your credit report doesn't mean it isn't still owed. The debt is owed until paid no matter how many years pass... however, if the statute of limitations has run out in your state for a judgement against you the owners of the debt really have no teeth to make you pay it. Good luck!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Yes they can keep adding negative items until the debt is paid in full. Because the SOL is expired they cannot take any legal actions to collect from you (ie they cannot sue you for non payment). They can however keep selling your debt to new collection agencies until you decide to pay or they decide to give up. What this is refered to as is junk debt buying and it is when the debt is non enforcable anymore, so a company buys the debt for pennies hoping to get lucky and have you pay the debt off.

    They can add negative enteries until the day you die...the debt would be paid out of your estate (if anyone still remembers). They can harrass you by telephone should they choose to (you can combat this by sending a certified letter and asking them to sease and desist any collection efforts and telling them they are not allowed to contact you regarding said debt anymore (this does not eliminate the debt, it just makes them have to quit contacting you regarding it).

    Here's the thing though, you can fight this another way. I don't know if you have heard of Debt Validation...but it is a great weapon for old debts who's SOL has expired and they cannot sue you. Usually these places do not have accurate records on the debts and cannot actually prove the debt is valid. If a collection agency cannot prove the debt is valid the must immediatly stop trying to collect it and they must remove the negative listing from your credit report. I am including the link that I originally used to do this and it give very good information on how to request a debt validation and the exact steps to take.

    Good Luck :)

  • H. A
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Yes, they can, but they have to remove it once you advise them in writing that the debt is no longer collectable due to the statue of limitations. Most will, but these type of debts are sold and resold and each new collection agency will harass you and try to put it on your credit in many cases. Now you know why good credit is almost a must. Pay them a settlement provided they give you a satisfied in full statement. It probably will be cheaper and far less time consuming to do so.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Yes they can. The Statute Of Limitations and your credit report are totally different from one another and has nothing to do with the length of time debt can stay on your credit report.

  • OC1999
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Echo is correct. Do not listen to the other answers who say that they can keep putting it on your report forever or harass you for payment. Per the FDCPA both of those are major violations of the FDCPA and you can sue them for up to $1000 per violation.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    don't pay it, they are a junk debt buyer, ask them for the

    contract YOU signed that gave them permission to

    collect from you, Have them validate it.

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