Statute of limitations: why debt collectors who sue you will lie about a payment

Statute of limitations: Why debt collectors who sue you will lie about a paymentA picture of a question mark with the words, "Statute of limitations: Why debt collectors who sue you will lie about a payment"

Why do debt collectors lie about when you last paid them, particularly when they have sued you?

This happens pretty frequently. Somewhere in the documentation, in the lawsuit, or even in the courtroom the debt collector claims to have found a mysterious payment that you don’t remember making.

I’ve had this happen in the middle of the trial, at the beginning of a case, and everywhere in between. 

But why would they lie?

The debt collectors will say, “Why would we lie about this payment? It brings down the amount that the consumer owes.”

Here’s why – they have missed the statute of limitations and have sued us too late.

They will go back in time and make up a payment that will put their lawsuit just barely within the statute of limitations. 

Was there a 3-year statute of limitations? They will say they received a payment 2 years, 11 months, and 14 days before suing you. 

How should you respond?

Ask for proof. If they claim you have made this payment, they should have proof. 

Often, they have many excuses. 

“We have it right here on this spreadsheet.”

This is unacceptable. Anyone can type information into a spreadsheet. We need actual proof of payment. 

“Well, we had a check from your client, but after we deposited it, we lost it.”

If they received a check, they should have the date, the amount, and the bank account information. All this should be in the debt collector’s records. 

“Well, a new person was working and forgot to record this.”

They conveniently can’t tell us any information about the mysterious payment.

They never received any such payment. 

As a lawyer, I ask my client to review their bank statements. If you are representing yourself, you should do this as well. 

Go back through your bank statements. 

See if you can find a payment on the date they gave you. 

When nothing shows on your bank account, they may claim you sent it by western union. But they still cannot provide proof. 

Clearly, this payment does not exist. 

The collection lawyer may claim they received a cash payment. 

I once argued with a collection lawyer about a cash payment. 

I asked if they could provide the envelope with the client’s information.

They said they threw it away. 

I asked if they could provide the note that was with the cash that identified what account the payment was for

They claimed there was no note. 

Well, how did they even know that this was for my client’s account? 

When they say that you made a payment, go investigate it. Look and see if you actually made that payment, especially if it is close to the statute of limitations

They must know the amount, the date, and they need to provide proof. 

Once they lose, and we come back to sue them, the collector will try to say they got your account mixed up with someone else who had the same name. 

We will not drop our case against them. They sued after the statute of limitations had expired. 

They must be held accountable

In Alabama, it takes more than a simple payment to reset the statute of limitations.

Alabama law says there has to be a payment and a written agreement that you agree to be bound to this debt. 

Typically, suing after the statute of limitations has ended is an FDCPA violation. 

Don’t be surprised if you are sued long after the debt was last paid. The debt collector may come up with an excuse. 

Be aware, be prepared, and fight hard against it.

We hope this is helpful to you.

If you live in Alabama and would like our help, call us at 205-879-2447 or fill out our contact form and we’ll get right back with you.



John Watts

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