A friend of ours was recently helping their parents clean out their house so they can downsize. Tucked away in a forgotten drawer was a pile of coupons clipped in the 1970s. Instead of chucking them in the trash, our friend outsourced the task of sorting through all the coupons to his kids to keep them busy. Some were for products that no longer exist. Most had long expired. But a few were manufacturer’s coupons with no expiration date. You could take one of those down to the Piggly Wiggly and use it today.
In many ways, old debts are a lot like those old coupons. Most businesses and creditors have old debts sitting in their metaphorical junk drawers collecting dust. At one point in time, the creditor hoped to collect those debts, but eventually, it was not worth the time or money spent to seek repayment. Now, some of the debts are owed by companies and people that no longer exist. Other debts have expired.
What are expired debts?
Expired debts, like expired coupons, are worthless. You can ask a store to honor a coupon past its expiration date, but it will probably say no. The same goes for expired debts. You can try to collect them, but savvy debtors will know they are no longer legally obligated to pay you.
Debts expire after the statute of limitations for collecting them has run. After the statute of limitations has run, the debt is no longer collectable. Each state sets its own statute of limitations, and different types of debt may be treated differently. Many Wisconsin debts expire after 6 years.
Wisconsin Law on Debt Collection – Chapter 427 of the Wisconsin Statutes
The bulk of Wisconsin’s laws on debt collection can be found in Chapter 427 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Even merchants who are attempting to directly collect a debt owed to them must follow Wisconsin’s debt collection laws. This is important to note because many merchants collecting a debt owed directly to them mistakenly believe that they are exempt from Wisconsin’s debt collection laws because they are not included within the definition of “debt collector” under the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
Be sure you are in compliance with both state and federal laws when you are attempting to collect a debt owed to you. If you violate Wisconsin’s law relating to Debt Collection Practices, there are several remedies available to the consumer.
The final way old debts are similar to the drawer full of old coupons is that processing them is often outsourced. The kids sorted the coupons, and debt collection agencies are often tasked with collecting debts that are overdue.
Work with an Attorney to Get Your Expired Debts Settled
If you have a pile of old debts collecting dust, and you are interested in collecting them, make sure you are not wasting your resources going after expired debt. Consider outsourcing your collections to a repudiable collections agency, or working with an attorney that has experience serving businesses and creditors like you. If you are looking for representation, please contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.