Today I received a letter in the mail from a collection agency namely ERC, stating that I still owe on an AT&T bill that is 11 years and have fallen off of my credit report at least 5 years ago. Can this even be a thing? I have worked really hard to pay up all of my due bills and now this blast from the past that I really don't even remember is trying to haunt me. Can this company do this? I mean the SOL has expired years ago! I am so upset... Please advise
assuming that you do owe the money, you can not be sued for it, (there's probably fine print at the bottom of the letter saying this) and it won't be reported. but yes they can do this. just because the SOL is up doesn't mean you don't owe the money. likewise it doesn't mean you have to pay it either. you can just tell them to pound sand
It is called "zombie debt." Although the debt is no longer collectable through legal process does not mean that they can't send you letters or even call trying to get you to pay this old debt that is barred from suit by the SOL. You can send them a DV letter, contact them to see if they can offer a legal basis to enforce the debt or just ignore them. I would do the latter.
If you wish to pay, you can likely negotiate a settlement at a very low percentage of the debt.
As stated by others, expiration of SOL does not negate the debt, but it does prevent them from obtaining a civil judgment that can be included iin your credit report, and can serve as basis for requiring payment.
Whether to pay a debt that is both outside of SOL and excluded from your credit report is a personal decision.
If you decide you dont wish to pay, you have the option of either sending them a debt validation letter within 30 days of their dunning notice, which will impose a temporary cease collection bar on them until such time as they send validation of the debt, or you can simply send a cease communication letter under FDCPA 805(c), which can be sent at any time and remains in effect indefinately, but only prevents continued communications (calls and letters).