Ok let me give you some helpful information that is not based on opinion. You asked,”Can they still collect on it”? The answer is of course they can, for 100 years or more if they choose. Now that that issue is answered, here is what is really happening with this loan, whether it is yours or not. The loan balance in question goes back a long way. That means that the original creditor chased the delinquent balance for,probably, several years, then sold the account to company that buys debt.
Then those guys chased it for several years, and they sold it. Several things can be happening here, first of all, depending on your name, they may be calling someone completely different than the person to whom owes the debt. You need to ask the people that are calling you what the social security # on the account is. If is isnt you, tell them that and tell them to leave you alone because this isnt your debt. If it is you, ask them who the original lender was. They probably cant tell you. You should obtain a copy of your credit report and check for the account #.
You never stop oweing a debt obligation, however as mentioned in a different responce to your question, there are, what are called, statute of limitations. What that means is that once that time limit has expired, from the date of last payment, you can not effectively be sued for the debt obligation. It doesnt mmean you dont owe the money, it just means that if you know the statute has expired and they do try to sue you, you can tell the judge that the statute has expired and the judge will dismiss it. Just because the statute has expired, does not mean that a collection agenct cant try to collect the debt, or that you dont owe it.
The statute varies from state to state, from 4 years on contracts in writing in TX to 20 years on contracts signed under seal in the Carolinas. All that aside, find out who the original creditor was, when was the last time you made a payment. You can tell the collection agency that you refuse to pay itand to not call you anymore. If it has been more than 7 years, this is the only place where 7 years means anything, the original loan wont be on your credit report any longer either. Dont let them get you going, I was a collector for 15 years. I have been down this road on accounts before. Hope this helps.