Am I obligated to pay for something if an original receipt of purchase is not available?

UPDATED: Feb 8, 2012

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Am I obligated to pay for something if an original receipt of purchase is not available?

Someone claims I owe them $90 for something they say I “contracted” to pay for. They have no original receipt of purpose to give me, and never proved I actually made a contract to pay for it. They say they submitted it to collections, and then told me if I paid the money it would be a closed case. Am I obligated to pay? Or am I worrying for no reason?

Asked on February 8, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are three very different issues:

1) Can you be obligated to pay without an original receipt? Yes--an original receipt is not magic, and as long as the debt is legitimate (i.e. you bought what they claim you bought), you would  have to pay.

2) Did you in fact contract for this debt? You are only liable for things or services you actually bought. If you did not agree to this debt, actually purchase item or service, etc., you are not legally liable.

3) Can they prove that you owe the debt? If they try to take legal action against you, they would have to prove the existence, amount, and validity of the debt.

You do not need to pay simply because someone says you have to pay; to have the legal right to payment, they'd have to sue you and win. Of course, sometimes it may be a better use of your time and money to pay rather than fight, but that's a decision you  have to make.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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