Can I be sent to jail ifI owe a debt?

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Can I be sent to jail ifI owe a debt?

A company called me and said that I owe another company money.  And if I didn’t pay them I would go to jail for fraud.  They have all of the information that they need. and they have all my information.

Asked on December 5, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No you cannot be sent to jail for this or even be threatened with criminal action. People do not go to jail for owing a debt. That is unless you had committed some type of fraud, which would make it a crime. For example, if you scammed someone into lending you money but you had no intention of repaying it. Absent some criminal purpose, neither a debt collector or creditor may threaten you. If they do you could actually sue them. Addtionally, they can not harass or otherwise intimidate, etc. It's the law - the "Fair Debt Collections Practices Act" (FDCPA).

This doesn't mean, that you don't owe the money - you didn't indicate whether or not this is a valid claim.  I f it is, and you set-up repayment plan, be careful as to what information you give them - especially your banking information.  Also, you cannot be sued for debt that is "too old".  This is due to something called the "statute of limitations".  In FL, you cannot typically be sued for most debts that are over 4 or 5 years old.


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