D EAR HARRY: Back in 1998, I struggled to keep up with four credit-card debts. I was married with two kids, so it was tough. I managed to pay off two, but the other two were turned over for collection. I just could not make it. I then was sent to prison for four years for a minor crime. When I was released, I got a job and started to get back on my feet with help from a loyal and loving wife. I pay my bills on time, every time. Then, out of the blue, these two old bill collectors called and wrote and gave me 30 days to pay up. They were unbelievably rude and demanding. They showed no compassion and never offered me any kind of concession, even with the added interest and collection charges. All this after 15 years! Where do I stand?
WHAT HARRY SAYS: The principal rule: Do not pay or offer to pay either of these vultures one penny! Call each of them and tell them to join with the other vultures in the wild. (You probably can think of more forceful words.) They are barred by the statute of limitations from collecting anything. Many such collectors buy up old debts for pennies on the dollar and try to collect them. Too often, they are successful with their fear tactics on unknowing victims. Keep up the good work in your current finances.