published Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Phillips: Statute of limitations may aid debt troubles

by Ellen Phillips

Last week I described what debt collectors can’t do when following federal guidelines, but perhaps as important is what they don’t tell us — sometimes intentionally, according to Reader’s Digest.

• The more money they get out of us, the bigger their bonus. It’s always a wise idea to ask if we can pay X amount if the full sum isn’t possible. If Carl Collector turns us down, it may be because he’s gazing in his mind at that fat bonus — up to $10,000 a month or more.

• Pursuant to the above, ole’ Carl has the power to wipe out thousands of dollars in debt. Typically 15 percent to 35 percent on credit card debt, most accounts have a one-time preapproved settlement rate. And that’s a lot of power, wouldn’t you agree?

• Sometimes Carl or Carlina don’t tell us whether the debt has passed the statute of limitations, and we don’t know to ask. Always check your state’s limitations ( -card-news/credit-card -state-statute-limitations-1282.php). If the time limit is passed, the company (i.e. collectors) can’t sue you or place it in your credit report. Do not acknowledge you owe a thin, red dime or make even a penny payment; if either occurs, it usually starts the clock running again, which means more calls from Mr. Collector.

• Should you decide to settle, don’t give out personal information, such as cell phone numbers, spouse’s work location or so forth. It’s just more shenanigans to find you if you renege on payment.

• Asking for a manager won’t help at all. Not only will he or she not assist you, you’re better off by disconnecting this call, calling back the number and getting another collector on the phone.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business.

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