Frequently Asked Questions About Debt Collection (continued)

Can a debt collector cash a post-dated check too soon? 

No, a debt collector is not supposed to cash a post-dated check before the date on the check, but don't ever give them one anyway, since there is little you can do legally if he does cash it early!  Banks have to process thousands of checks each night so there is no way a bank can catch every check that is post-dated. 

The problem with giving a post-dated check to a debt collector is that there are unscrupulous debt collectors out there who will not only cash the check before the agreed upon date, but will empty your account of whatever funds are in it.  So don't agree to send one in the first place.  Never give a check to anyone when you know that you don't have enough money in your account to cover it.  

Even if a debt collector complies with the law and cashes the post-dated check as agreed, you should never give any information to them about your finances.  Why make it easier for them to levy your checking account if they later decide to sue?  An alarming number of debt collectors have criminal records -- do you want them to have your checking account number in addition to all the other information they have about you at their fingertips -- so they can assume your credit identity more easily?

For these reasons, one should not agree to provide a post-dated check no matter how much the collector threatens legal action.  Instead, tell him you will send him X amount of money on X date and send him a cashier's or certified check rather than reveal your checking account number.  Of course, he will threaten and insist he must get a post-dated check over the phone right now, but don't do it.

These days, most debt collectors ask you to make post-dated check arrangements over the phone, but if you issue an actual paper, post-dated check to a debt collector, write the word "Postdated" above the date on the check to get yourself some measure of protection so that the debt collector can not later claim that he was not aware he was supposed to cash it after a certain date.  If a collection agency cashes a post-dated check before the agreed upon date, it cannot use bad check laws to recover treble damages (which some unscrupulous collectors will try to do).

Is My Spouse Responsible for My Debts?

Suppose a few years ago when you were single you stopped paying on a credit card debt and the account was written off.  Three years later, you're married and suddenly a debt collection agency, who purchased your old written off credit card account from the original creditor, is knocking on your door demanding payment and threatening to garnish, not only your wages, but those of your new husband or wife.
Can a creditor or debt collector go after my new husband or wife for my old debts?

The answer is probably no, but there are conditions in which your new spouse would be liable.  For example, if you put the spouse's name on the credit card account as a joint accountholder, he or she could be held liable, even if you put his or her name on the card account as a joint accountholder after you incurred all of the debt.  This is true even if your new spouse had no idea you are about to default on the card or have already defaulted.  There is another issue surrounding this question, which is, if the debt is old, is it a time-barred debt?  The collector might be barred from collecting anything from anybody if the debt is too old.

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