Tennessee residents who are being contacted by debt collectors should be aware of old obligations that are being pursued. This can include forgotten debts as well as debts that are beyond the statute of limitations, had already been resolved or discharged through bankruptcy. They should also be mindful that making a payment can restart the statute of limitations, which could then allow the collection agency to initiate a lawsuit seeking the full amount.

Old debts are often sold to third-party agencies at pennies on the dollar. These companies stand to make a profit even if only a portion of the original amount is collected. It can be difficult for a consumer to determine whether a debt may be legitimate. Because important information can be lost through the repeated selling of a debt, collectors may be demanding payment for an invalid obligation.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that more than 85,000 complaints regarding debt collection were filed in 2015. The primary reason for the complaints was that consumers were being hassled for debt they did not owe. The proper way to address old debt is by first collecting as much information about it as possible. This may entail requesting a validation letter. It should identify the original creditor, the debt amount and how it can be challenged.

If the debt is invalid, a letter challenging it should be sent. If it has already been paid, a cease contact letter should be issued. If the consumer owes the debt, but is unable to pay it in full, an attorney could suggest other methods of debt relief that may be available.