NSW Debt Collectors Calling About Old Debt - Statute of Limitations?

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Dean C

17 November 2015

In 2008 (I believe), I changed telecommunications companies and to my knowledge settled any outstanding accounts with Optus - although continued to be an Optus customer with other services.

In November last year, I was contacted by Baycorp debt collectors and asked to pay an outstanding Optus debt of $750. When I asked for information about the debt, I was told it was an old debt and after providing Baycorp with my contact details I would be sent information about the debt. I never received this information nor had any more contact with Baycorp.

For the past 2 months, I have been receiving almost daily missed calls on my mobile from an unknown number who does not leave a message. When I finally manage to answer one of these calls 2 weeks ago, I'm told that it was Baycorp regarding an Optus debt. I have again asked for information about the debt and was emailed an Optus invoice from 2008. I asked when the debt was actually recorded and she said shed did not know and I would need to contact Optus or Veda.

After contacting Optus, I was advised the debt would have been on-hold to Baycorp and I would need to speak to them. After speaking to Veda Advantage, they had no record of the debt and advised me that due to the age of the alleged debt that Baycorp should not be attempting to collect on it and that it would be 'statute barred'.

I sent a return email to Baycorp stating that I do not accept liability for the alleged debt and that I have been advised it would be statue barred.

For the past week, I have been receiving the daily missed calls again and when I do answer I am advised it is Baycorp in relation to my Optus debt and how would I like to pay the outstanding amount today.

I have again advised that I do not accept liability for the debt and that I believe it is statute barred. I was then told that because Baycorp made contact with me in November last year that the 6 years statute does not apply and that the debt is not statute barred. After confirming my contact details, they said they would email me a dispute form because I'm disputing the debt. I still haven't received these forms.

I don't know what to do - my understanding is it's a 7-year-old small debt which I had no idea wasn't settled or exactly what it was for, and why am I only hearing about it after such a long time. I have never accepted the debt as mine. Baycorp just made contact with me last year, does the statute of limitations no longer apply? Should I lodge a dispute form with them as they've asked or should they even be contacting me at all?

I was almost tempted to just pay the $750 to make them stop contacting me, but now it's a principal matter. No idea what to do.

Any suggestions would be very welcome.


The creditor must begin a court action to recover the debt within the 6 year limitation period. This is 6 years from the date:
  • the debt became due and you didn’t pay; or
  • you last made a payment; or
  • you admitted in writing that you owed the debt.
The limitation period starts from the latest of these events.

Therefore, make sure you don't admit that you owe the debt or make a payment before you are certain that the debt is not statute barred. When the company contacted you in November last year, did you acknowledge you owed the debt or admit it? I don't think by simply contacting you they can restart the debt. I would go through the debt dispute procedure.