Can a debt collector claim that I owe them payment if the debt isn’t on my credit report?

Asked on September 13, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that a creditor can choose to report a past due account or it can choose not to. Not all creditors utilize the services of credit reporting agencies. So just because a debt is not reflected on a person's credit report doesn't mean that the debt doesn't exist and is owed.

That having been said, typically after 7 years, outstanding debts, etc are removed from a person's credit report; this is required under federal law. However, there is something known as the "statute of limitations". This is the time period in which a creditor can sue on an outstanding debt. If they fail to sue within that time period, they are stopped from ever doing so in the future. So for example, if your state has a S/L of 5 years, you cannot be sued after that. However, if you have been sued and your creditor has obtained a jugement against you, then the judgement can be good for as long a 20 years (it depends on your specific state law). So, if your creditor obtained a judgment against you more that 7 years ago, while it will no longer appear on your credit report, you still legally owe on the debt.

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