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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.


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