Christopher is currently being haunted my a small debt from his past. At least, it might be from his past: he’s not sure. A collection agency is after him trying to collect a $315 PayPal balance from the dot-com bubble era. He doesn’t remember owing PayPal any money, but who knows? That was a crazy time. He wonders what his next steps should be.
My name is Christopher and I am pissed. On Valentines Day 2011, I received a statement from [a collection agency] that they were trying to collect a debt from “Chris [my last name]” in the amount of $315.00. The only information about the case was that the money was owed to PayPal. So at work today I called the call center to inquire about the debt I had no idea was outstanding. The nice lady on the other end with the thick southern accent informed me that the debt stemmed from a transaction that took place in early 2000. I started laughing like it was a joke. The collections person took personal offence and warned me that she would transfer me to another person if I couldn’t get my act together. While trying not to laugh any further, I asked questions about the debt. She could not elaborate on the details and said she would put a request in with PayPal to furnish proof. I can tell you for sure right now that anything tying me to that account is no longer active, the email address, phone numbers, addresses, the credit card, the bank account, the account itself, the eBay account (if that’s what it was), etc. They even got my legal name technically wrong.
I still can’t get over that they are trying to collect a debt from 11 years ago. Isn’t there a statute of limitations on debt collection? I mean even if they can tie this to me, which I’m assuming they cannot, or maybe they can? I don’t know but I’m getting a fairly good kick out of all of this. Any recommendations?
The collection agency needs to prove two things in writing: that they are the legal owners of the debt, and that you are the person who owes it. Sending a statement in the mail that says “Chris owes us $315” doesn’t cut it.
There is a statute of limitations on debt collection, unless you took out a few hundred bucks’ worth of student loans from PayPal. Here’s a handy table with that information by state. Here’s a sample letter that you can send to dispute the debt, since its statute of limitations surely has passed. They’ll have to prove that you owe the money…and you most likely don’t, so they’ll leave you alone.