We know tough times.
There are plenty of people in and around Johnstown – as there are all over the United States – who have gotten themselves into too much credit card debt. For some, it’s simply a matter of spending beyond their means because it’s much easier to hand over a little piece of plastic for that shiny, new purchase than it is to wait until they have the cash in hand for it. For others, the reasons are much more understandable. Maybe the furnace went in the dead of winter, blowing an already tight budget. Maybe flood damage – which isn’t covered by homeowners’ insurance – soaked a couple already living paycheck to paycheck. Or maybe the income dried up quickly, while the bills continued to mount.
We understand it. Most of us find a way to scrape by while we try to pay off those frightening balances. We cut back on nonessential items or even pick up a part-time job to help pay the bills.
For some, that’s not enough. Some among us have been forced to file for bankruptcy protection to wipe out those bad debts. Again, we understand that this happens. It’s not something anyone wants to do, but as a last resort, it’s an option that’s available in this country.
What we don’t understand is why a state politician is trying to make it even easier for people to walk away from debts
scot-free. Rep. Pete Daley, D-Allegheny, has proposed a bill that would force collection agencies to tell consumers if the debt they are trying to get repaid is too old, according to a story by CNHI state reporter John Finnerty.
Pennsylvania’s statute of limitation on credit card debt is four years. In other words, if you haven’t made a payment on it in four years, you’re no longer responsible for it. But if a collection agency, which might be trying to get money from the same individual on several different debts that are bundled together, gets a payment on that old debt, the clock starts ticking again.
Is it a sneaky tactic that could mislead some into paying old debts for which they are no longer legally responsible? Yes. Is that a reason to put yet another law on the books? No.
If the debt owner is now in a better position to pay off those bills, why shouldn’t he or she do it? Just because it’s been four years doesn’t mean that the company the money is owed to no longer needs it.
If you bought it and can now afford to pay for it, you should. If it’s not a legal obligation, it should be a moral one.
We don’t need more ways to help people avoid paying what they should. What we need are more ways to either help people avoid credit card debt in the first place or find manageable ways to pay off the debts they owe.
Lawmakers should not be in the business of encouraging residents to spend beyond their means and then search for ways to avoid paying off the debt. The government’s already good enough at that.
We know tough times.
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