Whenever debt collectors call you about a debt that fell into collections years ago, you should do some research. There is a chance that they cannot sue you.
It generally takes three to six years for debt collectors to file a lawsuit against you to recover debt. The timeframe varies by state and the specific type of debt.
It is no longer possible for debt collectors to sue you to recover the debt after the statute of limitations has expired. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If creditors do not violate the law in their attempt to collect the debt, they may still try to do so on their own.
What is the statute of limitations on debt?
Generally, debt collectors have three to six years to sue you to collect old debts. It can be longer depending on the type of debt. In many places, the statute of limitations is three to six years. It is impossible for collectors to obtain a court order for repayment after the statute of limitations expires.
Depending on your state, they may still be able to call or write you if they have the right to do so. However, they can’t garnish your wages or place a lien against your house.
When is a debt time-barred?
You still owe a time-barred debt if you do not repay it, and your credit score may dip if you don’t. Time-barred debt is a debt that has passed the statute of limitations in your state. If you don’t repay a time-barred debt, you can’t be sued.
A consumer protection attorney or a consumer protection agency in your state can determine if a debt you owe is time-barred according to the type of debt you have and the statute of limitations in your state.
In what way does the statute of limitations on debt work?
Various types of debt have a statute of limitations. For example, oral contracts have a statute of limitations, while written contracts have a four-year statute of limitations. The debt collector will not be able to sue you if you live in California and have not completed a written contract in four years and one day.
The statute of limitations time clock usually starts on the date that you first missed a payment. Depending on the state, some states allow debt collectors to file a lawsuit up to a decade later.
The different types of debt
Debt falls into four major categories. Each category has a different statute of limitations.
- Accounts that have varying revolving balances that you can borrow from over and over as long as you keep repaying the balance. Credit cards and lines of credit are examples of open-ended accounts.
- Debt made on verbal agreements to repay the money. This debt does not have a written contract.
- Basically, a promissory note is a written agreement that specifies a time by which the debt is to be repaid in specified payments by a specific interest rate.
- Term sheets: A document that contains loan terms and conditions signed by you and a creditor.
After the statute of limitations expires, can you still be sued?
Time-barred debts are no longer protected by the statute of limitations, but does not mean debt collectors will not sue.
A debt collector may still sue if the statute of limitations hasn’t yet passed because their records show a more recent date. A debt collector may also sue if they think you won’t be able to prove that the time limit has passed or if they think you won’t show up to court to defend yourself.
In the event that you are sued by a debt collector after the statute of limitations has expired, you should consult an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. The attorney will be able to guide you through the process of asking the judge to dismiss your case.
Is it a good idea to pay your debts after the statute of limitations has expired?
In order to avoid default, you should pay off the debt after the statute of limitations has expired. If you cannot afford to do so, try negotiating with the collector to see if you can pay them less than what you owe. Even after the statute of limitations has passed, paying off your debt can improve your credit and make it easier to get affordable loans in the future.
It’s also important to note that the longer you wait to pay, the more problems you will have with your overall financial health. Creditors will continue to increase their interest rates, charge you late fees and add other charges that will worsen your situation.
It’s important to note that creditors may still attempt to file a lawsuit even if the statute of limitations has expired, arguing that some reason prevented the statute of limitations from applying or disputing when it began.
It’s important to remember that the statute of limitations protects you from debt collectors after a certain period of time has passed. This doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t owe the debt.
Make a plan to repay your debt. Once you take care of your debt, you’ll have less stress and better financing options in the future.