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Debts cannot be re-aged

Richard M.  Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Richard M. Alderman
Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. I defaulted on a credit card almost ten years ago. I now have a collection agency threatening to report the old debt to the credit bureau, saying they are a new creditor and it is now a new debt. I worked for seven years to maintain good credit. Will this now be put back on my credit report?
A. This is called “re-aging” and they cannot do it. As you seem to understand, negative information stays on your report for seven years. After that, the information is considered obsolete and generally cannot be reported. The seven-years period, however, runs from the original debt. The fact the debt is sold or assigned to a debt collector does not create a “new” debt or start the clock running again. I suggest you let the debt collector know that you believe the threat to place the information back on your credit report violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is the federal law that protects you against abusive, threatening, harassing, unfair and unconscionable practices by a debt collector. If the debt already has been reported, contact the credit bureau and let them know this is all the same debt and you want it removed. For more information about debt collection and credit bureaus, look at the material in the “Legal Topics” section on my website,
Q. A debt collector is harassing my mother for her brother’s debts. The last phone call scared her because he threatened to take her house. How can she stop them from harassing her?
A. As I noted above, debt collectors are strictly regulated by federal law. Based on what you say, this debt collector has violated several provisions of this law, called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This law generally prohibits a debt collector from contacting anyone other than the debtor about the debt, except to get location information. It also prohibits any harassing conduct or making threats of conduct prohibited by law. Texas law does not allow the debt collector to take your mother’s house for her brother’s debts and threatening to do so is unlawful.
I suggest your mother take a look at the debt collection section of my website listed below. She should let the debt collector know she knows about this law, and if he does not immediately stop contacting her consider speaking with a consumer attorney.
Q. Can I name my sister as executor of my will if she is also going to be the beneficiary?
A. Yes, a person who is a beneficiary may also serve as executor. Almost anyone may serve as the executor of a will. Basically, the only people who may not serve as executors are minors, incompetents, convicted felons, and others a court finds unsuitable.
Q. I recently told my husband we are separating, and I am moving out. We both signed the lease for our apartment. If I move out, is there any way that I can get out of my obligation on the lease?
A. First, there is no such thing as a legal separation in Texas, you are either married or divorced. Being separated or divorced, however, does not give you a basis to get out of your lease. A tenant’s right to terminate a lease depends upon the terms of the lease. Unless your lease contains a provision permitting you to terminate it early or the landlord agrees to release you, both you and your husband are still responsible for the rent. If you husband plans to stay in the apartment and pay rent, you should notify the apartment complex and see if it will agree to terminate your obligation.

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