Normally a collector won't call to advise they will be filing court papers; normally they will simply file and then serve a summons and complaint on the party.
Often times there are illegitimate debt collectors trying to collect on fake debt, or even expired debt. The statute of limitations governs lawsuits, and in CA the statute of limitations vary, but for written contracts, the statute of limitations is 4 years:
So if the collector did not pursue the debt within 4 years it is time barred, and it is against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for a debt collector to state that they are going to file a lawsuit on a time barred debt.
Violations of the FDCPA are $1,000 for each violation;
The consumer can request validation of the debt (written proof) and can also request that the debt collector stop contacting them- the debt collector must do so (other than for serving a summons) and violations for future contact is $1,000 per contact.
Normally if the debt collector is not legitimate, once the customer mentions the FDCPA, the creditor will stop contacting them. They can also be reported to the FTC. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
For time barred debt:
"Collectors are allowed to contact you about time-barred debts. They might tell you that the debt is time-barred and that they can't sue you if you don't pay.
If a collector doesn't tell you that a particular debt is time-barred — but you think that it might be — ask the collector if the debt is beyond the statute of limitations. If the collector answers your question, the law requires that his answer be truthful. Some collectors may decline to answer, however. Another question to ask a collector if you think that a debt might be time-barred is what their records show as the date of your last payment. This is important because it helps determine when the statute of limitations clock starts ticking. If a collector doesn't give you this information, send him a letter within 30 days of receiving a written notice of the debt. Explain that you are 'disputing' the debt and that you want to 'verify' it. The more information you give the collector about why you are disputing the debt, the better. Collectors must stop trying to collect until they give you verification. Keep a copy of your letter and the verification you receive."
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.