What to do if my stepfather was recently contacted by a company that says he owes over $7000 in interest fees for a loan made over 30 years ago?

What can my step father do in this case? He said he’s sure he paid it off but after 30 years how in the world would he be able to prove it? He can’t recall much about it even.

Asked on October 7, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is almost certainly the case that whether or not your stepfather did at one point owe the money, that any creditor or collections agency cannot force him to pay after so long. There is something called a "statute of limitations," which is the time limit for taking legal action on any debt, injury or obligations. Once the statute of limitations has passed, there is no way to force someone to pay if they don't want to, since there is no way to take legal action. The statutes of limitation in Oklahoma for contracts or for judgments (i.e. if our step father had been sued in the past and lost) are only 3 - 5 years; if he owed money on either a contract, loan, or promissory note, or from a lawsuit, and 30 years have gone by since when he should have paid it off (the statute of limitations would start counting from when payment was due, but was not made), then it is too late for anyone to try to make him pay the money. If they actually try to sue, he should e able to get it dismissed on statute of limitaitons grounds.


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