A North Carolina man found himself on the wrong end of a 14-year-old VHS rental gone wrong this week.
As local news station WSOC reported, James Meyers was pulled over for a broken tail light, but when the officer ran his license, it came back with an arrest warrant for failure to return rental property from 2002 — a VHS tape of Tom Green’s “Freddy Got Fingered” from a since-closed video rental store, to be exact. Failure to return rental property is a misdemeanor in North Carolina and can carry a $200 fine, according to WSOC.
The officer let Meyers take his daughter to school and go to work before returning to the police department to deal with the warrant later that day. Meyers ended up arrested and in handcuffs when he returned, and spent a couple of hours dealing with the warrant before being released and given an April 27 court date. Green even called Meyers after hearing about the incident.
You may have heard before that old debt can come back to haunt you. It’s rare that an old debt results in a criminal charge, like in Meyers’ case, but even small charges like overdue library books or movie rentals can end up in collections, hurting your credit scores for years. Collection accounts can remain on your credit report for 7 years plus 180 days from when the debt originally went into default. You can get copies of your free annual credit reports on AnnualCreditReport.com to see if you have any old debts haunting you. You can also get a free credit report summary on Credit.com every month to see how debts are impacting your credit scores.
And you can do a few things to get old debts off your credit reports as well:
- Pay for removal deals. They aren’t common, but some debt collectors will remove a debt from your credit report if you pay the bill.
- Dispute the account. You can dispute the account if it’s on your credit report for longer than it should be or appears in error. You can do this yourself or hire a credit repair company to help you if you want to hit the easy button on the situation.
- Negotiate with the original creditor. The original creditor may be willing to pull the debt back from collections and ask the debt collector to remove the collection from your credit report if you’re willing to pay.
There is also a statute of limitations on collecting old debts in most states — you can check out our map of the statutes across the U.S. to see what your rights are.
More on Managing Debt:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt