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  1. #1
    angelacornelius is offline Junior Member
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    10-year old traffic ticket

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Hawaii (living in Missouri now)

    My husband recently received a notice from a collection agency---Municipal Services Bureau. The noticed indicated that he had an outstanding traffic ticket from July 1998---a few weeks from being 10 years ago. He recalls getting the ticket, but also says he believes he paid it. He left Hawaii in February 1999 and never heard a thing about it until a he got the notice. He’s never had any problems with his driver’s license since then. He has been pulled over and ticketed, but we had no indication that he may have outstanding tickets.

    He called the Hawaii court about this and they told him what they had on file, but that they could not provide a copy of the signed ticket. They said he would need to talk to the collection agency about this. The clerk told him these old records were sold to this collection agency. They also told him there was no statute of limitations on the ticket.

    What can we do in this circumstance? We do not have records for a ticket he thought he paid from 10 years ago. What legal right do they have to collect this debt that we beleive was paid, albeit no record? They have indicated failure to pay can result in a “hold” disabling him from renewing his driver’s license as well as having a warrant issued.
  2. #2
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    First I would say if what the court told is true that they sold all these old ticket to a collection agency then I would say the collection agency has no legal grounds to keep him from renewing his license. It sounds like Hawaii wrote it off and now the collection agency is trying to make a buck off you. Only courts or the state DMV office can withhold renewing your license no private company can do this.

    What is interesting about this, most people do not keep records for 10 yrs, even a bank will not have a copy of cancel check from 10 yrs again. The Fed Government only requires 7 yrs for tax reasons. So unless you happen to have the old check the collection agency knows you have no way of proving you ever paid.

    Also, I believe there is a way to stop a collection agency from harassing you, you might want to check into this.
  3. #3
    angelacornelius is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    First I would say if what the court told is true that they sold all these old ticket to a collection agency then I would say the collection agency has no legal grounds to keep him from renewing his license. It sounds like Hawaii wrote it off and now the collection agency is trying to make a buck off you. Only courts or the state DMV office can withhold renewing your license no private company can do this.

    What is interesting about this, most people do not keep records for 10 yrs, even a bank will not have a copy of cancel check from 10 yrs again. The Fed Government only requires 7 yrs for tax reasons. So unless you happen to have the old check the collection agency knows you have no way of proving you ever paid.

    Also, I believe there is a way to stop a collection agency from harassing you, you might want to check into this.
    I asked my husband and he said he wasn’t sure if they said “sold” or turned over the case to collections. Either way, they said they (the court) couldn’t handle it from this point. So although I agree the collection agency itself can’t have the license suspended/not renewed---can they turn it back over to the court? It seems like if the court was that desperate to resolve the matter, they would have dealt with my husband directly.

    You echo my sentiments exactly about the records---I think if even the IRS can’t insist you produce copies of records past 7 years, can a collection agency? It seems asinine to me. It doesn’t seem like it shouldn’t be our burden to “prove” we paid it after 10 years.

    The other thing I find interesting is my husband didn’t move for 8 months after the ticket---he heard nothing from the court. And when he applied for a MO license, there was no issue in getting it.
  4. #4
    Curt581 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelacornelius View Post
    I asked my husband and he said he wasn’t sure if they said “sold” or turned over the case to collections. Either way, they said they (the court) couldn’t handle it from this point. So although I agree the collection agency itself can’t have the license suspended/not renewed---can they turn it back over to the court? It seems like if the court was that desperate to resolve the matter, they would have dealt with my husband directly.
    What they can do is put a collections notation on your credit history. Planning to buy a new car anytime soon? Expect to pay a higher interest rate or be denied altogether.

    Courts are not in the habit of tracking people down to pay their fines. Courts impose sanctions if people don't pay, or they turn it over to collections agencies. Either way, fines catch up on their own.
  5. #5
    angelacornelius is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt581 View Post
    What they can do is put a collections notation on your credit history. Planning to buy a new car anytime soon? Expect to pay a higher interest rate or be denied altogether.

    Courts are not in the habit of tracking people down to pay their fines. Courts impose sanctions if people don't pay, or they turn it over to collections agencies. Either way, fines catch up on their own.

    That occured to me too...which starts an entirely new issue....legally can they do this if they can't prove we didn't pay? And since it is was 10 years ago, it seems like it should't be something they can report on current credit.
  6. #6
    Curt581 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelacornelius View Post
    legally can they do this if they can't prove we didn't pay?
    Prove? Who would they have to prove it to? They own your debt. If you don't pay, they report it to Experian, Equifax, etc. Done deal.

    The wording of your post suggests that you can't prove you did pay. Someone saying "I'm sure I paid it" doesn't hold water anywhere I know of.

    And since it is was 10 years ago, it seems like it should't be something they can report on current credit.
    It is current. You haven't owed the agency for 10 years, you owed the court. You've only owed the agency since they bought the debt.

    Look at it this way... at least you don't owe ten years worth of interest or accumulated late fees.
  7. #7
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelacornelius View Post
    That occured to me too...which starts an entirely new issue....legally can they do this if they can't prove we didn't pay? And since it is was 10 years ago, it seems like it should't be something they can report on current credit.
    Hint: Pay it.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  8. #8
    occharge is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt581 View Post
    Prove? Who would they have to prove it to? They own your debt. If you don't pay, they report it to Experian, Equifax, etc. Done deal.
    Just an observation.. If this "collection agency" is anything like the "collection agency' that does collections for Los Angeles county... Then they dont report it to no one...
    Even if they do report it to All 3... a simple half page letter would force the credit bureau's as well as the collection agency to have to prove that the debt exists or remove it faster that it was reported.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curt581 View Post
    The wording of your post suggests that you can't prove you did pay.
    The wording of the response her husband received from court also suggested that the court has no proof that the debt existed (i.e.: no signed citation).

    Quote Originally Posted by Curt581 View Post
    Someone saying "I'm sure I paid it" doesn't hold water anywhere I know of.
    And someone saying "you owe me pay me" without showing proof that the debt indeed does exist should not hold water either... I've never tried it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Curt581 View Post
    It is current. You haven't owed the agency for 10 years, you owed the court. You've only owed the agency since they bought the debt.
    If the court has no reference whatsoever to show when it was transferred to the agency, then who's to say how long they've owed how much to who?

    Quote Originally Posted by Curt581 View Post
    Look at it this way... at least you don't owe ten years worth of interest or accumulated late fees.
    Who knows what amount the original tocket was or what the amount the agency is requesting now... Another invalid assumption...


    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge View Post
    Hint: Pay it.
    OMG... I swear I sometimes cannot believe what I am reading!!!

    angelacornelius, I think a lot of these questions will go away once you or your husband contact the agency to get more info from them. Just keep in mind that if they are anything like the collection agency that does the same for Los Angles County, be prepared to be harrassed, threatned...lied to and bullied into paying.

    Quote Originally Posted by angelacornelius View Post
    They have indicated failure to pay can result in a “hold” disabling him from renewing his driver’s license as well as having a warrant issued.
    Only the court or the DMV can put a hold on somone's license. I highly doubt that a collection agency can do that. Also, only a court can issue a warrant... And if it does do either (hold his license or issue a warrant) based on an unpaid citation, he is still entitled to his day in court... But without a signed citation showing that he made a promise to appear on a specific date and failed to come through on that promise, then there is not warrant and there is not hold.

    By the way, I am neither an attorney, nor a judge... so my advice is worthless... but then again, at least my sentences make sense!
    Last edited by occharge; 06-26-2008 at 10:05 AM.
  9. #9
    angelacornelius is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by occharge View Post

    angelacornelius, I think a lot of these questions will go away once you or your husband contact the agency to get more info from them. Just keep in mind that if they are anything like the collection agency that does the same for Los Angles County, be prepared to be harrassed, threatned...lied to and bullied into paying.

    OCCHARGE--you're cracking me up. Good to find some humor in this. Just to clarfiy some of the points made...

    The ticket was $130. We probably COULD have gotten a copy of the check he used to pay with several years ago (I think he just mailed the money in with the ticket). Now, I don't even think you can get a copy of a check from 10 years ago!! Isn't 7 years the limit on getting a copy from the bank?

    Also, Hawaii is part of the "compact" (or whatever it is) that transfers these kinds of violations from one state to another. If this was legitamite....wouldn't he already have a warrent out for his arrest or had his license suspended? (we've checked...he doesn't).

    If I legitamitly thought he owed this, we would just pay it. Being 10-years, with no proof on either side, it seems like this doesn't hold water.

    Also, thanks for the advice about the credit bureas. If it does come back on us, I plan to fight it. Our credit is really good, so I doubt it will hurt us too much (maybe wishful thinking here).
  10. #10
    Merk is offline Junior Member
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    The poster who said the debt becomes "new again" once it changes hands is wrong. That's called "re-aging" and it's a violation of the FCRA. Debts are as "old" -- where credit reporting is concerned -- as the commencement of the delinquency. A debt which has gone unpaid for 10 years cannot appear on your credit report because of this, no matter how many times is changes hands. You can actually sue them over FCRA violations if they do re-age (and possibly if you request the immediate removal and they don't comply).

    Now, the question is whether a 10-year-old unpaid ticket is a debt, or a judgement. I'm in the same situation, right now. The ticket is from 14 years ago. At the time, I *did* get my license suspend for failing to appear. I paid the fine, got my license reistated, all's well. Now they're claiming I never paid, and they're threating to suspend my license again (without even ackowledging that it was *already* suspended and reinstated) and tarnish my credit rating (they being both the collection agency and the town where this occurred -- I haven't lived in that state since right after the ticket).

    I've done a fair amount of research, and I've discussed with a lawyer. I've even called the driver's license authority in my state, and the official word is that they can't suspend on a ticket that's more than six months old. Check with your state to find out. They may tell you something similar.

    The state where this occurred has no record of me at all. No proof that this was already taken care of. Not even any record that I ever lived in or was licensed in that state. The only thing is the "copy" of the ticket held by the town where it happened, and this collection agency.

    My only lingering doubt is to whether or not this is a "debt." I realize it's a "judgement" and that the credit reporting rules may differ for those. At this point, though, I believe anything treated as a debt collection *is* a debt collection, and can't be reported after seven years. I just wish I was positive of that.
    Last edited by Merk; 01-10-2010 at 11:33 AM.
  11. #11
    racer72 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merk View Post
    The poster who said the debt becomes "new again" once it changes hands is wrong.
    Reviving dead threads is wrong too. The OP and many that posted in this thread are long gone.
    If you feel my answer is rude, mean, snarky or in anyway not to your liking, I did my job. You don't need to tell me.

    No private messages, I do not reply to them.
  12. #12
    kellyt72 is offline Junior Member
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    This seems Shady!!

    I had something similar happen to me. I got a notice in the mail from a collection company saying that I had an unpaid ticket from 15 years ago. It all sounded shady to me!!
    First of all I don't think I was in California at this time. I researched online and found another girl with the same name lived there.
    I was told that there was nothing I could do because there was no statute of limitations on unpaid tickets in California and that because there was a new nation wide traffic/warrant system in place now, if the ticket remained unpaid I could possibly be arrested in the state I lived if pulled over.
    $450 is expensive to me! I refused to believe that I was helpless in this situation. I know that California is in trouble financially, but I don't live there and this is such a bogus way to get the revenue that their state needs!!
    I hired a lawyer! Mainly for the principle that I thought I was innocent!! and also because the ticket was over ten years old and I had never been contacted until this point.
    I told them that I would hire them if they're fee would be less than the ticket would cost.
    They wrote a few letters, California never responded, and the ticket is no longer on my record. Now I have a legal document to respond with if this matter ever presented itself to me in the future!
    This whole process took a few months and cost me $75! So keep the faith!
  13. #13
    janburns is offline Junior Member
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    Question on a ticket ten years old

    I have a question and i'm so glad I found this site. I had a DUI in 2004. I made restitution and did volunteer work to take care of it. A collection agency contacted me years ago about a traffic ticket that I believe I got around the same time but when I tried to make arrangements with them, they wanted half the money the next day and even though I was working it was impossible so I let it go. I never got my license back but since its been ten years I wonder if its even an issue anymore. I haven't seen it on my credit report and now I would like to get my license. Is there a state of limitations with the collection agency as there is on any other collection agency bill? I didn't know that the courts turn the fines over to collection agencies until it happened to me and then I just read on here that this is the usual procedure. I live in California and I am not on any probation because of the DUI and never got another one because I didn't drive and since then I quit drinking so I would like to know if after seven years this ticket was cancelled and can I go get my license now? Thank you, I am now ready to drive again and have been for awhile but the ticket was for almost seven hundred dollars and I could never afford to pay it. Now I'm working I would like to get a car to get to work and back. Thank you once again, jan.
  14. #14
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by janburns View Post
    I have a question and i'm so glad I found this site. I had a DUI in 2004. I made restitution and did volunteer work to take care of it. A collection agency contacted me years ago about a traffic ticket that I believe I got around the same time but when I tried to make arrangements with them, they wanted half the money the next day and even though I was working it was impossible so I let it go. I never got my license back but since its been ten years I wonder if its even an issue anymore. I haven't seen it on my credit report and now I would like to get my license. Is there a state of limitations with the collection agency as there is on any other collection agency bill? I didn't know that the courts turn the fines over to collection agencies until it happened to me and then I just read on here that this is the usual procedure. I live in California and I am not on any probation because of the DUI and never got another one because I didn't drive and since then I quit drinking so I would like to know if after seven years this ticket was cancelled and can I go get my license now? Thank you, I am now ready to drive again and have been for awhile but the ticket was for almost seven hundred dollars and I could never afford to pay it. Now I'm working I would like to get a car to get to work and back. Thank you once again, jan.
    If you read thru this thread you'd see that you are guilty of what the prior poster did - necroposting (reviving a dead thread) and hijacking it with your own question. Both are considered taboo here.

    Create your own thread to address your issue, please.
  15. #15
    janburns is offline Junior Member
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    My own thread

    Quote Originally Posted by sandyclaus View Post
    If you read thru this thread you'd see that you are guilty of what the prior poster did - necroposting (reviving a dead thread) and hijacking it with your own question. Both are considered taboo here.

    Create your own thread to address your issue, please.
    I am new to the site and didn't know the rules and I didn't pay attention to the date at first. Regardless; I have posted my own thread but don't see why a person can't respond to an old thread if they need a question answered. No matter and you don't need to respond, I get it already.

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