What should I do if a debt collector contacts me about a mortgage I thought was already satisfied or written off?
If a debt collector is contacting you about a mortgage that you believe was forgiven or satisfied long ago, then you have rights. A debt collector generally must verify the debt, and you can work with a lawyer to check if the statute of limitations on the debt has expired.
Step 1: Verify the debt and review our recommendations for dealing with debt collectors. Don’t take what the servicer or debt collector tells you at face value. You generally have the right to ask a debt collector about the debt, including if you don't believe you owe the debt. You will also generally be provided with information at the outset of collection activity, usually in a written letter, that is called the “validation information.” This information must include:
- The amount of the debt
- The name of the creditor you owe
- A description of certain rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Learn more about your rights when dealing with debt collectors.
Step 2: Have a lawyer check whether the debt collector’s time has run out. Some state laws set time limits on collecting mortgage debts. In some states, the law allows an old debt to be collected but removes the possibility of foreclosure, and in other states the law may remove an old mortgage from the property altogether. You’ll probably need a lawyer’s help to find out what laws apply in your situation, and whether the debt is considered old enough that a debt collector can no longer collect on it. Click here to find a lawyer in your state.