How to Evaluate the Statute of Limitations on Debt

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Falling behind on a debt and getting pursued by collectors are often frustrating and stressful. However, US law provides some relief to debtors through statutes of limitation, which give a deadline for creditors (or collection agencies) to sue you for payment of a debt. then deadline has passed, you’re still technically liable for paying the debt, you only cannot be sued in court. Statutes of limitation vary among states from as short as 3 years to as long as 10 years. How you proceed depends on whether the statute of limitations has expired and therefore the action the debt collector is taking.

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Two deadlines For Debts

Many people get the statute of limitations confused with the credit reporting deadline . While they’re both deadlines associated with debt, they need different effects, and they are triggered by different events within the debt’s life cycle.

The credit reporting deadline is that the maximum amount of your time credit bureaus can include delinquent debts on your credit report. for many sorts of accounts, it’s seven years from the date of delinquency. However, bankruptcies are reported for ten years. The credit reporting deadline is dictated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and doesn’t influence the statute of limitations for collecting a debt.

What the Statute Of Limitations doesn’t Do

Keep in mind when the statute of limitations expires, it only prevents a collector from winning a judgment against you once you can prove the statute of limitations has expired. It does not:

  • Keep a collector from filing a lawsuit against you. It can keep them from winning if you employ it against them in court.
  • Erase the debt. If the debt is legitimately yours, you continue to owe it until it’s canceled by the creditor or discharged in bankruptcy.
  • Prevent the debt from being reported on your credit report. The debt are often reported as long because the credit reporting deadline allows.

Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit

Read over the summons and complaint carefully. If a debt collector sues you, you will be served with a summons and complaint. The summons tells you when and where you would like to seem to defend your case in court. The complaint states information about the debt, including the name of the first creditor, the entire balance owed, and therefore the date of the last payment.

  • The date of the last payment is that the crucial date for evaluating the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations typically starts to run from this date. If that date is outside your state’s statute of limitations, the collector doesn’t have the proper to sue you for payment of that debt. for instance , suppose your state’s statute of limitations is 3 years. In 2019, you’re sued for payment of a mastercard . The last payment on the cardboard was made in 2015. That lawsuit would be time-barred.
  • albeit the lawsuit is time-barred, the judge will still enter a default judgement against you unless you answer the complaint and appear in court. The judge won’t make your argument for you. If you think the lawsuit is time-barred, you’ll present that as a defense.

Paying Off a Debt in Collections

Resist the urge to form a payment without proof of the debt’s validity. Debt collectors are legally obligated to send you a validation letter if you invite one. This letter includes the name of the first creditor, the entire balance owed, and therefore the date of the last payment. The statute of limitations typically starts running from the date fo the last payment. If you create a payment without this information, you run the danger of restarting a statute of limitations that had already expired.

Debt collectors often use high-pressure tactics to urge you to acknowledge the debt or comply with make a payment. Once you’ve reset the statute of limitations, they will sue you for full payment of the debt.


  • If a debt collector violates your rights under US law, file a complaint with the buyer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). Your state’s attorney general’s office can also have a consumer protection division which will assist you.


  • this text covers the statutes of limitations on debt within the US. If you reside in another country, the statutes of limitations could also be different. Consult an area attorney, especially if you have been sued for collection of a debt.
  • Statutes of limitations laws may change and are subject to a judge’s interpretation supported the facts of every individual case. confirm you’ve got the foremost up-to-date information on the statute of limitations that applies to your situation.
How to Evaluate the Statute of Limitations on Debt

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