When a creditor calls demanding payment for a debt, is that person obligated to pay? The answer to that question depends on whether or not the debt is valid. Those who are contacted by creditors regarding an alleged unpaid debt may request proof that the person actually owes that money. However, this request must be made in writing. It also must be made within 30 days after the creditor makes a request for payment.

After 30 days pass, the creditor is under no obligation to prove that the debt is valid. At this point, it may be possible to move from collection calls or letters to a lawsuit against the person who supposedly owes the debt. The good news is that a creditor may not be able to sue or is not actually going to take legal action to collect the debt.

If you are taken to court regarding an unpaid debt, make sure to appear at the scheduled hearing time. A common reason why creditors win judgments to collect money is because the person who owes the debt doesn’t show up. Even if you are ordered to repay the debt, it may be possible to have payments calculated based on your ability to pay. Therefore, it may be possible to pay a creditor without ruining your finances.

For those who cannot repay their debts, bankruptcy may be a helpful tool to resolve those debts. An attorney may be able to advise an individual as to the benefits of such a decision and what type of bankruptcy to file. Additionally, an attorney may advise a client as to what property or financial assets such as retirement accounts may be exempt during the process.

Source: FOX Business, “Can I Request Proof of Credit Card Debt?“, Jeanine Skowronski, August 20, 2014