So Why Didn’t I Just Pay Afni?


If you haven’t read my previous posts about the zombie debt collector Afni, Inc., you really should start with this post and work your way forward through the series before reading this post. None of the posts are terribly long, but they offer a great deal of context.

So why didn’t I pay Afni anyway? Some might argue that, even if the statute of limitations has expired, a debtor has the moral obligation to pay the debt.

I disagree: limitations on the collectability of debt, as well as other protections such as bankruptcy, are a part of the fabric of our society. This is a known risk when doing business, and all businesses account for it in various ways to some degree. There is wisdom in letting bygones be bygones beyond a certain point.

Now that I have that off my chest, there are some practical reasons why I didn’t pay Afni collections for the ancient T-Mobile account they were sending me collections letters about:

At the most basic level it was $156.65 $78.33 that I didn’t have to pay.

More than that, my goal at the time was to repair my credit and raise my credit score as close to 800 as I possibly could. If an account wasn’t on my credit report, it basically didn’t exist as far as I was concerned. Because it wasn’t on my credit report, I had no self-interest in paying it. It would, in effect, be free money for Afni collections.

You might not know this, but if you pay a delinquent account that has aged-off your credit report, you risk having it come back to haunt you until it ages off again.

If I had paid it, there was every chance it would have been added to my credit report. Why? Because the statute of limitations resets if I make even a partial payment. Basically, it probably would have been added to my credit report for 7 years if I had paid it. This is true even though it had previously aged off.

Now, because I would have reset the debt clock on the account, its appearance on my credit report for the next 7 years, though unwelcome, would have been entirely legitimate. This means I would have had an extremely difficult time getting it removed from my credit report. I’m not saying it would have been impossible to do, but chances are good I would have been stuck with it.

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