Can I go to jail for not returning merchandise from a rental contract if I tried to return it but they said it was too late?

UPDATED: Dec 3, 2011

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Can I go to jail for not returning merchandise from a rental contract if I tried to return it but they said it was too late?

I am being harassed by a collection company regarding a musical instrument that I rented for my daughter years ago. I paid on the instrument for 2 years and when she was going to no longer play the instrument I thought it was returned by the school. However, after being contacted by these people I found out it was not. They say that they can put me in jail for theft. I called the original creditor who stated that they had written it off as a bad debt and would not accept the merchandise back at this point and that I must deal with the collection company who is rude and uncooperative. Can I go to jail for this? What can I do stop these calls and protect myself?

Asked on December 3, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Texas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to realize that the calls that the third party debt collection company is making to you seem to be an unfair debt collection practice. One cannot threaten a criminal proceeding to obtain an advantage in a civil matter. You cannot go to jail for the unpaid debt.

I would write the third party debt collection company stating that it is engaging in unfair debt collection practices under federal and state law requesting no further contact. Keep a copy for future reference. If you keep getting contact by the debt collection company, you should consult with an attorney who practices debt collection law about your situation.

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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