Can a collection agency come after me for an old debt incurred by the company that I used to work for?

UPDATED: Oct 3, 2010

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Can a collection agency come after me for an old debt incurred by the company that I used to work for?

Company has since gone out of business. I signed a document approving the advertising content and pricing for a phone book company. As the manager of administration, there were many things I had to sign, but I never signed anything personally. Always as an employee of the company. The document that I signed had (in small writing, on the back) that the signer took personal financial responsibility for the debt. Can they do that? Can they “trick” someone into signing a personal guarantee? Can the come after an employee for a company debt? My guess was that this collection company knew of the owner’s bankruptcy and moved on to me.

Asked on October 3, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You say that the document you signed "had (in small writing on the back) that the sigher took personal financial responsibility for the debt." In situations like that, the signer is indeed usually liable--he or she contractually assumed liability. The fact that it was in small print or in the back of the documeent usually is not a defense; adults are presumed to read, understand, and agree to what they signed. If you can show that there was some deceit--for example, you were provided with only the front text and were not actually given a copy of the terms by which you would assume liability prior to signing; or perhaps that the terms were so confusing that they could not be understood by a reasonable person--you would have a defense to it; but without some fraud, deceit, etc., it is very likely that are liable for the debt you assumed responsibility for.

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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