Hi - Can somebody please provide some insight to these questions for our research regarding somebody living overseas for a couple years and not paying off their credit card debt? The banks knew they moved overseas, the person was paying minimum payments before they moved overseas but stopped once they moved away, and hadn't been back in the US since to work. They did not knowingly receive mail, emails, or phone calls about the debt when they moved overseas. Now that they moved back to the US (haven't started working yet), besides severe credit report damage, what would answers to these questions be? The person is willing to start paying off debt and they feel terrible about what they did, but they're trying to figure out what happen and how they should go about tackling their debt problems.
Moving overseas has its own possible special effects on statute of limitations in many states.
Any periods outside the U.S. can stay the running of the SOL. You should consult the SOL statute for your state for any such provisions.
As for any civil suits, I would begin by checking with the office of the clerk of the pertinent courts in your jurisdiction of residence of record that was last known to your creditors. Some courts have online database access to civil actions. You can do that without any contact with creditors or debt collectors.
Most civil actions will, for various legal reasons, normally be brought in your jurisdiction of residence, even if the creditor or debt collector has other options, so I would begin there.
Lack of showing in your credit report does not mean there is no judgment. It might only mean that the searches of public record information conducted to date by the CRAs has not yet uncovered the public record.
Their are no criminal penalties for default on debt, but it is possible that if a judge has previously ordered your appearance for some reason, you could face penalties for contempt of court.
However, if you appear in court and establish you were not in the country and did not receive notice, it is unlikely that you would serve any time.
As for contacting creditors and debt collectors, personally, that would be my recommendation if your intent is to pay.
They will know the history.
As long as you simply state that you are seeking only to resolve any possible issues, and dont admit to the debt, you wont reset any SOL provisions.
However, I would look into your possible SOL extension based on being outside the U.S. before making any SOL determinations.
I would definately NOT inform creditors or debt collectors that you were outside the U.S. without first consulting with an attorney.