Ever open a piece of mail to find a bill for something you bought 10 years ago? Maybe it’s a purchase that slipped your mind or something a merchant or credit card company forgot to charge you for. Either way, you’re asking yourself one question: Do I still have to pay for this?
It comes down to statute of limitations, legalese for the amount of time in which a lawsuit (in this case, a collections claim) must be filed.
Always ask for written verification is an old “zombie” debt makes an appearance in your mailbox. If it turns out the debt is legit, check the statute of limitations in your state.
But remember that the statute of limitations on debt only means that credit collectors can’t sue you for the debt after a certain time period. It doesn’t mean they can’t stop trying to collect it. Debt also remains on your credit report for at least seven years, so even if the statute of limitations has expired, you could find that your old debt is still hurting your credit.
Not all debt is covered by the statute of limitations. Federal student loans, child support, taxes and fines are exempt.