Collection Agency Calling on 10 year old debt past the SOL in California and Kentucky

in 2001 i lived in california and had a small credit card. i was hurt on the job and unable to pay. today 1/09/2012 i live in kentucky and a collection agency just contacted me. do they have to go by california law since thats were debt come from. or since i live in kentucky does that change the whole process?? and what can they do??

lived in california 2001 had small credit card hurt on job unable to pay 10 years later collector me in kentucky what can I do


The debt collector is trying to get you to pay what is likely a “zombie debt“. Zombie debt refers to a debt that is outside the statute of limitations (SOL) where the debt owner can access the courts and sue you in order to collect. After 10 years the account should not be appearing on your credit report as a charge off or collection account. The debt is essentially the walking dead.

There are instances where you can unknowingly reset theĀ  SOL on a debt by admitting to the debt or making a partial payment.

There are also instances where the tolling on the SOL is paused due to the move you mention you made. With the SOL of 4 years on open accounts (credit cards) in CA and 5 years KY, I find it unlikely the SOL can be established as still an active concern, and I doubt you will be sued. If you were, I would encourage you to connect with a consumer law attorney and discuss the situation at that time. In fact, I want you to be aware of a few things that may lead to you contacting an attorney with debt collection violation experience.


Debt collectors should follow up phone calls with a collection letter.

This collection letter will give you the address you need for the agency in order to send them a cease communication letter. It does not have to be a fancy or long letter. Just be sure it states that you dispute the debt and you demand that the collector cease communicating with you in any way. This means this particular collector should not be attempting to contact you again.Be sure to send the letter certified mail return receipt in order to get the green card back that proves the collection firm received it. If collection attempts by the same collection agency continue after that, you should connect with an attorney with collection violation experience and discuss how he or she may be able to assist you. Many attorneys with experience in this area of law will not charge you a retainer or request any fees from you if they represent you in this situation. They work your case on contingency where if they are to be paid it will be by the other side.


If you continue to receive calls on this debt by this, or any other collector, I would encourage you to reach out to an attorney. If you reply in the comment section below with your zip code I will find the closest attorney who practices in this area of law and post contact information for them in reply.


I encourage you to check your credit reports if you have not done so recently and be certain that this negativeĀ  account has been removed after the 7.5 years has elapsed since the date of last activity (last payment). Any collection agency reporting related to the account should no longer remain on your report either, but collection accounts do often reflect a more recent and therefore inaccurate date of last activity.


Things to consider when sending a debt collector a cease communication letter if the SOL has not expired.

Anyone reading this who is not certain that the debt is outside the SOL for legitimate collection efforts using the courts, who sends the cease communication letter in an attempt to stop collection calls and letters, will be leaving the collector no alternative to communicate unless they want to proceed with collection by suing you. There may be better methods for resolving the debt you should consider instead.


Any reader with questions or concerns regarding debt collection and the statute of limitations can post them in a comment below in order to get feedback.


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  1. I live in Jasper, TX 75951. I was contacted by a debt collector in California ( I have never lived in California) for an outstanding acount with Citibank. If I owned this card it had to be back in 2001 (only time I ever owned a credit card), I resolved all my accounts and dont believe this is my debt. They have contacted me through my employer and are prepared to take me to court and garnish my wages. I requested last recorded activity; they stated 7/2007. I know this is not legitamate, as I didn’t have a credit card then and no record of this appeared on my 2008 credit report. They want to find me to serve me papers to appear in court. I cannot afford to appear in court in California. I contacted the attorney who is trying to serve me advising I have no record of every owning this debt. My oldest copy of my credit report is 2008 and this dept does not appear. What rights do I have and how do I resolve this matter? I dont want to settle this account ($3600); even for $500, because I am affaid any activity will initiate a hit on my credit report; which is perfect. I want it to go away. If I assume responsibility, I assume the dept and the damaged credit report.

    • Michael says:

      Hi Lndsay,

      Several things jump out at me given the detail you provided:

      If the debt was yours and you last made a payment in 2001 the debt would be beyond the 7.5 years for legitimately reporting it on your credit report.
      If the debt is yours and you last made a payment in 2001 then the debt would also appear to be outside the statute of limitations for them to legitimately use the courts in their collection efforts. A collection agency or collection attorney could file a lawsuit to collect this far down the road, but your response would be that the debt is now time barred from bringing a civil claim. You should speak with an attorney to understand this more fully.
      Can you respond with another comment and outline how the collection attorney is contacting you through your employer?
      What threats of garnishment have occurred?
      What was the nature of the communication shared with your employer? Was it a letter that was sent to your job, or a phone call?
      Who is the collection attorney?
      Who is the debt collector or debt buyer they are collecting on behalf of?

      If you are worried about your credit report, settling an account that went bad on your credit report does not allow a whole new 7 years of credit reporting. The 7 years starts from the date you last made a regular payment.

      Depending on the answers you have to the questions above, I may recommend you contact an experienced attorney in Texas about your rights when it comes to collection abuse.

  2. mark dangelo says:

    hi my mom had a credit card back i think it was 2000 any way we lived in KY at the time but moved now we live in IL but my mom got a call from a collector but he side he was an attorney well now we live in Chester IL 62233 and he says my mom well have to go to court if she dose not pay it up i am just wandering if it is past the SOL in KY she was told it was 15 years when everywere i have read it is 5 years she is in grate need of help she is in bad health and can not take the stress of this problem.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      mark – When did you move to Illinois? The SOL in IL may be the one that applies. Can your mom remember when she last made a payment on the account in question? If so, when was that?

      Who is the debt collector trying to get her to pay and threatening a court action? Who was the original creditor?

      Post a comment reply to my above questions and I can provide better feedback that will likely remove the stress you mom is feeling about this.

      • mark dangelo says:

        she had the credit card in KY but they are tring to get her now and her health is not so good now and it is to hard on her i don’t know what there name is but i think the SOL is long past but i don’t know i do know if it is a credit card the SOL is 5 years because it is classed as an open contract.

  3. john jones says:

    I bought a truck in December 2000 the truck was a complete lemon and put three transmission in within 4 months, i quit paying on the truck in june 2001 and let them come get it. I went to prison in Jan 2003 and got out in oct 2010, been doing great got a good job and got approved for a home loan in april 2014, when out of the blue i received a letter from a collection company saying i owe 9 k on that old repo, it is past the sol which was 6 years, the collection company did provide proof of the debt. Should i send the collection agency cease communication letter?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      John – I do encourage people use a cease communication letter to stop collection calls and letters from coming in on old debts that are passed the SOL for legitimately collecting in the courts. This one should be too old to be showing on your credit report too.

      Send any communication like this using certified mail return receipt requested. If you hear from the debt collector again, after you know they got your letter, post an update and lets go from there.

      • john jones says:

        thank you very much for answering my question. Would tolling i think its called be used in this situation due to the fact that i was in prison for 8 years

        • Michael Bovee says:

          I doubt it, but talk to an attorney in your state with a practice that focuses on debt collection defense to be sure.

          • john jones says:

            Ok will do. One more quick question if i send them a cease letter and they decided to take me to court do they have to come to my state? The state i bought the truck was in tennessee the collections company is out of ohio and i live in montana. Do they have to come to Montana to go to court?

  4. Hello,

    Thank you for this information. I received a debt collections notice for a phone bill dating back to 2003/4 (unsure) it is now 2014. Should I simply write them the basic cease and dissit letter? Any advice would be appreciated!

    Additionally, this is not showing on my credit report.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Carol – What is the name of the collection agency that sent you the notice? What state do you live in?

  5. Stephanie says:

    I recently received a call from a debt collector that stated I owed over $4K on a BofA credit card opened in 1999. He stated that my last payment was made 07/2007. I told him I was certain that I paid this off through Bank of America. He responded with there’s no way I could have done that, that I would’ve had to pay the agency. I told him I would look into it and get back to him. I also told him I check my credit report frequently and I know this is not on my report. He said even though he can sue me he can call me everyday for the next 30 years and proceeded to tell me that some people are just irresponsible in the college years and ignore things they have messed up in the life into their adult years. I was very offended because I had been polite to him the whole time, but I wasnt surprised. Now the agency has called me literally everyday since then, sometimes more than once. Would I be able to send him a cease communication letter in this instance. Please advise.

  6. Hi. Just wondering if you would know if the SOL continues to hold true if the original debt, before being sent to the collection agency, was a debt to the Superior Court of California for traffic violations and failing to make payments / therefore going to collections? It’s been 7 to 10 years, I’ve gone to court ( & jail ) many times, and none of the Superior Court judges were able to allow me to make payments, etc., as the fine was already in collection. I think that I stood before 5 or 6 judges, who tried everything that they could to give me some kind of break. I haven’t been able to drive to work or make any money, due to the DMV hold, so I’m unable to pay $3,000.00+ in full. I haven’t gotten any letters or calls from them for quite some time, though the collection calls continued to come from the court, even after being sent to GC. I may be wrong. I’ve never been arrested on any warrants for this. I think that they told me that it would be taken out of any tax returns. Anyway,…I wanted to ask your advice on this because those types of debts don’t show up on credit reports. I was going to look it up on the DMV website as I wrote this to you, but I know what DMV’s answer will be already,…” If you want a print-out,…$15.00 “–probably $30.00 by now. My friend actually told me to go to “Homeless Court”.,…10 years ago I was “House-less”, so…that’s why I couldn’t even send in $1.00 to keep it from going to collections I realize my question seems so obvious. I just had to ask. Thank you for your time and expertise.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      I am not positive of the answer regarding the SOL for court fines in California. I sent some questions out to professionals in California who would likely have the answer, and will post what I learn as soon as it comes in. Sorry for the delay.

  7. Mark R. says:

    I was contacted a few days ago of a credit card debt of at least 15 years ago, they said they were with a lawyers office and threatened me with all kinds of legal action. I’m not sure if it was paid or not but I was unemployed for 15 months around that time. I know its outside the SOL but i made the stupid mistake of agreeing on a settlement of $300 due to their high pressure scare tactics. What should my next step be?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      How was the payment remitted, and when was it set to process, if not already?

      Have you contacted your bank about what you can do once you realize you have been victimized by a scam?

  8. I was first asked if I had a reloadable debit card which I don’t, but gave them credit card # which I called bank and had that card canceled and they are issueing me another card #, it was suppose to thru on this coming Fri.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      You are out of the woods it sounds like. And will probably hang up on the next debt collection turkey that tries to lay on anything like that again.

      What was the name of the debt collection company, law office, or attorney? It would be good to post that here so that others can be warned about the same thing.

      • Mark R. says:

        After much research, I’ve found a settlement paid release letter on this debt which was paid in April 2007. The debt collection company is Steinberg & Assoc. 4533 MacArthur Blvd. Ste. 278 Newport Beach, CA. tel. 855-871-9879. What action should I take other than calling them and say this was paid? Something need to be done to scammers like these.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          I would first suggest you talk about all of what has transpired with an experience debt collection violation attorney in your state. The consult would be free, and if they see clear cut violations of state and/or federal collection laws, the attorney may go after the debt collector at no charge to you as well. What is the name of a nearby larger city? I will email you contact information to attorneys with the experience you want, and you can talk it over.

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