Time-Barred Debts

A statute of limitation is the time limit during which a person is allowed to take a legal action related to a previous event. Regarding debt, the statute of limitation refers to the duration of time during which a debt collector is able to request the court make you pay for a debt. It is not the responsibility of the court to prove that the statute of limitation has expired on your debt. Rather, it is up to you to show the court that your debt has reached its statute of limitation.

What does it mean to have an expired debt?

If your debt has expired passed its statute of limitation, then you have what is known as a “time-barred debt”. If you have a time-barred debt, you still owe the money for this debt. However a debt collector will not be able to get a court judgement against you for this debt – provided you are able to bring proof to the court that the debt has expired. An example of proof could be a check showing the last payment that you made on the debt.

Use caution when making payments

A debt collector will usually try to get you to make small payments, particularly when dealing with older debts. When you make that small payment, however, this creates a new start date for the statute of limitation on the debt. If you aren’t intending to repay the debt, it’s important for you to know that by making any payment on the debt, you are extending the statute of limitations on that debt.

Types of debt

There are four categories of debt. You should take note of which type of debt applies in your case because the time limits vary by debt type. Consult with an attorney if you need assistance determining which kind of debt you have.

  • Oral Contracts
    In an oral contract, you made a verbal-only agreement to pay back the money. There is no contract in writing.
  • Written Contracts
    With a written contract, there is a written agreement that was signed by you and the creditor. The contract will include the loan amount, payment terms, and additional terms of the loan.
  • Promissory Notes
    A promissory note is a written agreement stating that you will pay back a debt amount and that you will abide by the payment terms. In contrast to a written contract, a promissory note is only signed by the borrower. A home mortgage is an example of a promissory note.
  • Open-Ended Accounts
    An open-ended account is one where the balance changes over time. You repay and continue to borrow. A credit card is a typical example of an open-ended account.

Debt Collection Statute of Limitations, By State

State Oral Written Promissory Open (includes credit cards)
Alabama 6 6 6 3
Alaska 6 6 3 3
Arizona 3 6 6 3
Arkansas 6 6 3 3
California 2 4 4 4
Colorado 6 6 6 6
Connecticut 3 6 6 3
Delaware 3 3 3 4
Florida 4 5 5 4
Georgia 4 6 6 4
Hawaii 6 6 6 6
Idaho 4 5 5 4
Illinois 5 10 10 5
Indiana 6 10 10 6
Iowa 5 10 5 5
Kansas 3 6 5 3
Kentucky 5 15 15 5
Louisiana 10 10 10 3
Maine 6 6 6 6
Maryland 3 3 6 3
Massachusetts 6 6 6 6
Michigan 6 6 6 6
Minnesota 6 6 6 6
Mississippi 3 3 3 3
Missouri 5 10 10 5
Montana 5 8 8 5
Nebraska 4 5 5 4
Nevada 4 6 3 4
New Hampshire 3 3 6 3
New Jersey 6 6 6 6
New Mexico 4 6 6 4
New York 6 6 6 6
North Carolina 3 3 5 3
North Dakota 6 6 6 6
Ohio 6 15 15 6
Oklahoma 3 5 5 3
Oregon 6 6 6 6
Pennsylvania 4 4 4 4
Rhode Island 15 15 10 10
South Carolina 3 3 3 3
South Dakota 3 6 6 6
Tennessee 6 6 6 6
Texas 4 4 4 4
Utah 4 6 6 4
Vermont 6 6 5 3
Virginia 3 5 6 3
Washington 3 6 6 3
West Virginia 5 10 6 5
Wisconsin 6 6 10 6
Wyoming 8 10 10 8

How can I apply the statute of limitations to protect myself against a debt collector?

If a debt collector is bringing a lawsuit against you on a time-barred debt, you must take action. By suing you, the debt collector is hoping that you won’t show up in court and he will thus win a default judgement against you. He will then be able to begin the collection process with the backing of the court. You can defeat the debt collector by taking your lawsuit to an experienced debt collection attorney. If your attorney is able to prove to the court that you have a time-barred debt, the legal case against you will be dismissed.

If you’re being contacted by debt collectors about a time-barred debt, please contact us to discuss the situation further.  If a debt collector sued you on a time-barred debt, and misrepresented the legal status of your debt, you may have a claim against the debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If we agree to handle your case, you only pay us when you win your case or from your negotiated settlement. For a better understanding of the damages you may be entitled to and a Free Case Evaluation, please contact attorney Adam Strauss now at (952) 361-5556 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.

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