Never Make a Partial Payment to a Debt Collector
Debt collectors love getting people to make "partial payments" on debts - on any debts, but especially old ones. It isn't just that they want some money, any money. If you give them the money you will probably be subjecting yourself to a lot of problems. And that is especially true if the debt is very old, even if it is beyond statutes of limitations.
If your debt is beyond the statute of limitations, that is, if it is too late for the debt collector to sue you, making a payment will revive the debt and start the life of the debt again. This is because of an odd thing about the law - it distinguishes between the life of the debt (forever unless paid) and enforceability of a debt (controlled by statutes of limitations). To put that into plain English, the law regards a debt as continuing to exist until it is either paid or excused in some way even if it is long past the statute of limitations. And this little bit of B.S. allows for all kinds of unethical mischief.
It allows debt collectors in some jurisdictions to raid bankruptcy claims even though the debts would be illegal to try to collect, and it allows for the revival of debts by a debtor making a simple mistake. If you offer a gift, for example, that promise is not enforceable because there is nothing paid for it. Giving a debt collector partial payment will put you on the hook for the entire amount.
Unless you make a signed written agreement that you are settling the claim for the amount paid. But of course what the debt collectors tell you is that you can pay a little now and then a little later if you get a chance. Wrong. Make that payment and they'll be after you as hard as they can go.
Similarly, if the debt is old and you make a payment, it restarts the statute of limitations. I do not think it should do that if the payment does not, at least, take the debt out of default, but the courts haven't listened to me on that one. Make a payment on an old debt and, voila, you have a new debt.
So with all that in mind, what do you do? I would suggest that there's never a moral reason to pay a debt collector - it's like feeding rats, and do you really want them to multiply? But there could be times when you might want to either for moral or practical reasons. If so, you must know what you're doing. Your payment will revive the debt. Do you know how you will pay it? Do you have a reason to pay the whole thing? I would be extremely cautious in this as you are subjecting yourself to liability to a group of people more willing to destroy you than almost any other group.
I'd say don't do it 99.99% of the time.
If you are being contacted by debt collectors, you need to be alert to protect your rights. These calls are often a prelude to their suing you. You might consider membership with our site, which gets you our ecourses for free, plus gives you many other benefits.Check out some of our e-courses. Or consider our prepaid legal plan to protect you from future possible litigation. With that, if you get sued, you'll get a lawyer to defend you for free.