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From the Experts at Credit.com

Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

The statute of limitations (SOL) is the length of time a creditor or debt collector can file a lawsuit against you. Typically, the statute of limitations starts when you miss your first payment and go delinquent on the debt. If you want to see whether you have any late payments – and how they affect your credit – you can get a free credit report summary on Credit.com, updated every month to help you monitor for changes.

Many consumers confuse the credit reporting statute of limitations with debt collection statute of limitations. In many cases, the statue of limitations to collect a debt can be much longer than the debts can legally be reported in your credit reports.

Use the statute of limitations map provided below to determine your state’s debt collection time limits. Simply click on your state for more information.

State Statute Open Accounts Written Contracts

Note: Credit card accounts are generally considered open accounts while installment accounts – like an auto loan – would be considered a written contract.

Last updated in April 2009. The information provided above is for reference only. To report updates or corrections, please send us an email.


  • karen sheppeard

    In 2008 I was found disabled. I lost my vehicle to volentary repossession, and everything else went into collections. I got my SSD about 6 months later, and called everyone I owed to make a payoff payment. Everyone took the payoff offer except one company. They then (whenever) recently sold their company to another company who is now trying to collect this debt. When I origionally offered a payoff amount they refused it, so it went unpaid. They would have literally lost nothing except intrest if they had taken the offer. Now the 2nd company is trying to collect over $2000 dollars from me, even though after I pay my bills and expenses every month I only have about $70 dollars left. I have a court date on the 29th of May, and I’m not looking forward to it at all. If the court orders me to pay it, what will they do if I can’t? I know they won’t put me in jail, that would cost them a bundle. And I know that nobody can just “take” money from my bank or “attach” my check for it because it is government money. I’m just nervous because I don’t have any idea how this will turn out.

    • Shantelle

      What they will actually do is make harrassing phone calls to you threatening to do things, when in fact, they will do nothing. They only way they would sue you was if they could recover, it costs them money to sue, also. They didn’t buy just your loan from that company. They buy a “bundle” of bad loans and try to collect all they can. They talk tough, but they are not going to do anything, especially after your finances, etc. are revealedm in open court. They will leave you alone after that.

    • Shantelle

      At the worst, the company will be the proud owners of a piece of paper that says you owe them money and it goes on your credit as a judgement. There are no criminal penalties for not paying a debt.

      • joby

        Not so……you’re sadly mistaken. I always thought we’re lucky to be in the generation of no “debtor’s prisons”. However, Target recently served my neighbor with a subpoena to appear in court for non-payment of debt on a credit card account. The subpoena was delivered by a sheriff’s deputy.

        • Robert Hall

          The sheriff’s deputy was off-duty. Anybody can hire them to deliver a subpoena. Debts are a civil matter in the vast majority of circumstances, never criminal.

        • Zachary Isom

          A subpoena to appear in court is not the same thing as being put in prison for debt. Failure to appear is a crime. They CANNOT put you in prison for owing money. Many sheriff’s departments serve legal notices for a fee.

        • CT

          Just because the sheriffs deputy hows up to serve a subpeona, it doesn’t mean a person will go to prison for not paying a debt. It will, however, give the company the right to garnish wages. The only instance in which you could be incarcerated is if there is some kind of fraud committed, ex.: fake signature, posing as someone else…

          • clarkc

            My sons car was repossessed and the car lot filed a small claim suit for the rest of the amount owed which he was never served papers on. He went to court on a traffic violation they arrested him on the failure to appear for the small claim and his bond was the amount of the small claim. So yes in Kansas they can arrest you for not paying a debt.

          • 274565

            Wrong as you said he was arrested for failure to appear not for failure to pay a debt. Just because they are related does not mean they are the same.

    • Snailmailtrucker

      If it is small claims court…don’t worry about it…they can’t make you pay either ! Just a hit on your credit but nothing else.

      • cowboyfan1

        Very poor advice Snailmailtrucker. If the judgment is executed for under $25 in most states after the creditor receives the judgment any law enforcement officer can and must repossess anything of value owned by the debtor including cars, boats, campers, savings accounts… anything deemed of equal value to the amount of the judgment. If the officer refuses then he can be held responsible for the collection amount.

    • kpanda

      Not sure if it matters that it’s government money. My aunt owed money to debtors and when she didn’t pay, they were able to garnish her disability. I hope that is not the case for you. Good luck!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Karen –

      My first question is whether this debt is too old. If you last paid on it was six years ago it’s possible the statute of limitations has expired. I recently wrote about that here: What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

      If not, then you still may be what’s called “judgment proof.” It’s not a legal term but it essentially means that even if they get a judgment against you there is no way for them to collect. We wrote about that here: New Federal Rule Protects Benefits from Garnishment

      I would really encourage you to talk with a consumer law attorney to find out what your rights are here. If they do get a judgment against you – even improperly – it’s difficult to undo.

      You may well have a defense against this lawsuit. If you can’t afford an attorney you may be eligible for legal aid. Also many bankruptcy attorneys offer a free consultation, though you want to specifically ask them about the statute of limitations and debt defense.

      The third article I want you to read is this one: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit

      Will you let us know what happens?

    • Rick

      Beware Karen. While your SS/DIS is exempt from garnishment, any non-trust bank account that has your name appears on is an asset that any Judgment Creditor can file a writ of garnishment on. The responsibility to file a motion to quash the garnishment, due to the funds being exempt, falls directly on you. Failure to do so will result in that money being removed from your account. While not difficult or expensive, this action is required to protect your bank account. Note also, any funds deposited outside of your federal benefit are not protected.

      • karen sheppeard

        I knew that thank you. I have no assets that are deposited outside of my benefits. I do not work and am not able to work, my name isn’t on anyone elses accounts just for that purpose, because none of the money is mine but could be taken anyway. Thank You for your advise.

        • Kyle

          Also, if they get a judgement against you, they will have to renew that every seven years for it to stay active. At least that is the way the law reads in Texas.

    • Fred

      You have nothing to worry about at all. Disability is non collectable. They can not touch it even if they have a judgment against you. I had over $20,000 in back medical bills. They should have billed the VA and instead they billed Medicare. Now while Medicare paid they of course did not pay it all, so I got sued for the rest. The attorney took me to court which I did not even show up for so he got an automatic win. He then wrote up a garnishment and sent it to my bank. Well my bank then put a hold on my account, until I called them and told them that all the money going into that account was disability. At that time they opened up my account right then and there. I then called the attorneys office and told him if he did not remove that from my account within the next 24 hours that I would own his business. It was within 10 mins of that call that I got a call from the attorneys secretary and was told that the garnishment had been removed. So don’t worry about a thing you are fine.

      • Ticker

        I had the same situation and dared the hospital to sue me so I could being in all the media that I could find just to show how they treated Vets. Haven’t heard another word from them and no hits on my credit either.

    • sharon

      Get a legal letter from legal aid in your state stating you have no assets, are on a fixed income and pay rent, food, etc. Explain to the judge that you had offered to pay the original company but they refused. When they sold out they handed over delinquent debt also. Don’t be nervous it will all work out.

    • p911

      Have any documentation available…… The last two words can be difficult.for that amount of time and at that time who documents.

    • pastor fred

      i know at one time if a company refused any type of payment then that bill was considered paid in full

    • mary

      2008 is 7 years ago . . . under most states , the SOL ( statute of limitations ) to collect has expired .
      You did not list your state so click on the map and see if maybe it’s expired in your state .
      Just remind the judge when you go to court .

    • sensible-guy

      Just make sure you or an attorney appear. Many times these people take you to court in hopes you don’t show up. That then gives them a default ruling. If you have any communications from the other creditors that you settled with (letter of agreement to your settlement offer) bring that with you. It will show the judge you tried in good faith to settle this 7 years ago, but that offer was rejected. Also bring in a Income statement (inflows and outflows) you currently have. Hopefully the court will find you “verdict proof” and void the debt.

    • bill

      Only money owed to the Government IRS ect and child support can be garnished if your on SSD, no one else can

    • Lee Warran

      Sue them for harassment or find the guy that’s pushing this and have a “Talk” with him.

    • Johnson Harry

      they cannot go after ssdi money. it’s protected by the government.

    • Carrie White

      Don’t worry- they cannot attach your disability! Chances are they will tell them to write it off…in which case you will not have to pay it.

    • Black007

      What is the statute of limitation? In Texas it is 4 years aftet last payment. The collection agency can not reage the account. You should never pay a collection. It will still show as a paid collection. Concentrate on your credit mix and paying paying youe current bills on time.

    • mary

      I had sort of the same issue….I made payment arrangements they accepted and they still tried to sue me…….I ended up filing bankruptcy and 6 mos. later I purchased a brand new car and then got credit cards, now my credit is good.

  • karen sheppeard

    In 2008 I was found disabled by SS. I lost everything by the time I recieved any money. When I got the settlement they owed me, for a prior year, I called everyone to make payoff arraingements. Most of the companies I owed were more than willing to get some money rather than none, and were accepting of the offers. One company however, did not take the offer. Even though they would have actually lost nothing but intrest, they still refused. Now they have sold the company to a different company who is trying to sue me. I have a court date on the 29th of May. I have made a list of all my current debts, and have about $70 a month left after paying everything. I know they can’t attach my “paycheck” because it’s government money. They can’t take my tax return because I don’t file taxes. How can the judge make me pay something I don’t have the money to pay?

  • linda smith

    we moved when our lease was up in nv (2008) from an apt complex. we didn’t owe rent nor cleaning nor damages. but now they are listed as in collections on our credit rept. how can we fix this. we cant move nor rent anything due to this. we do not owe anything to this complex. all we can think of is that they are charging some kind of after-the-fact fee. any ideas

    • Mike

      Call them (The apt. complex) and ask.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        I agree – the first place to start is with the apartment complex. It is possible the debt collector has mixed you up with someone else with a similar name. Let us know what they say.

  • Shantelle

    What I would like to know is why the credit reporting agencies are not held more accountable for reporting erroneous information and why it is our responsibility to correct it. THEY should have to correct it, and they should be sued for defamation of character and slander when they report erroneous information. They created the business, they make money from it, it costs people jobs, loans, etc when it is wrong, so THEY should be held responsible for bad info.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Agreed. Once they get a judgment it makes things more difficult for debtors.

    • amctom

      Government paid income such as social security cannot be garnished by anyone. let em sue you. they cannot collect.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Except for certain types of federal debts which can be subject to offset: My Social Security Income Is Being Zapped for Student Loans!

      • T A SPENCER

        VA disability and pensions may NOT be touched except for back taxes and and over payments to the VA. The money may NOT be garnished for debt payments. The only kicker comes from Child support. For alimony purposes it may be counted for income calculations in all states, BUT Arizona!!!!! While for alimony payment purposes the money cannot be touched the courts will enter a contemt of court citation and arrest warrant issued. In other words you have to pay no matter what!!!!

      • fed1985

        Not true.

      • me

        SS can be garnished for student loans in default, and for past due child support.

      • Mr. Dimensional

        No but they can take it from your bank account with a court order !

        • joe

          Not in this paticular situation. I was a banking officer for many years. If the debt is anything but Taxes, student loans, or child support it is unatachable. The bank would be negligent to attach. Putting themselves in a liable situation.

        • daugherty

          not out of SSDI…have a seperate bank account for your SSDI and no one but the gov. itself can touch it.

      • Eddie Depp

        That is not true. Unpaid student loans can be deducted from any type of social security benefit.

        • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

          It cannot be deducted from Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income. It can, however, be deducted from retirement benefits.

          • Mizmoxie

            Then I am owed a ton of money because SS allowed the Education Department to garnish my SSD

        • Lore Earll

          NOT SSDI. Supplemental social security can’t even be garnished by the IRS. Do some better research.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    As far as I know, the doctor does have the right to stop seeing you as a patient if you don’t pay an outstanding bill. And while there may be a statute of limitations, that simply means they can’t successfully sue to collect the debt. They can typically still try to collect. If you don’t think you owed it and really want to keep that doctor, then maybe you can try writing them a letter politely explaining the situation, why you didn’t pay it and perhaps offer to pay it just to settle the matter. Otherwise, it sounds like it will be time to shop for a new physician.

  • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

    How much is owed today on both judgments?
    What state do you live in?

    Your accounts and wages are at risk depending on the state you live in. Probably not the van depending on the value.

    Debt collectors will continue collection efforts on the judgments. You can put this all behind you with chapter 7 bankruptcy, or by negotiating a settlement.

    Do you have a dependable and consistent income?

    • nancyb

      on both it is up to around 12000.00 I lived in ny at the time, since 1012 I have been in tx. No on income, I make sure of it. and whatever gets deposited into my bank accts gets taken out the next day.The atty I had in ny told me 17 years and the judgments are taken off.

      • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

        Judgments, whether domestic or foreign, are good for 10 years in Texas and can be renewed. Are you prepared to live your financial life the way you currently do for all that time? It is okay if you are going that route. 12k is a lot of money to come up with (though you can settle old judgments for less, and sometimes much less).

        Chapter 7 would cost less than 2k (attorney fees and court costs all included). Settling could cost maybe 5k, and on up to the full amount.

        Texas has a good exemption allowance for vehicles (vehicles can be protected using a large wildcard exemption). Talk about your collection exposure with an experienced consumer law attorney would help set you at ease.

  • nancyb

    $40….seriously? just pay it…I WISH that’s all I had to pay for medical care

  • ydblacks

    The statue of limitatons is that according to the state you were living in when u made the actual debt or the present state u live in? Does the time period start over if I move to another state? Kinda confused on how this works

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It does get confusing when different venues are involved. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act a debt collector may bring a suit either in the state where the contract was signed or where the consumer currently resides. So presumably it would depend on where they filed suit.

  • Deepar Regis

    You are technically bankrupt. You are insolvent.

    If you can tolerate the frequent collection calls, then bear it and save your bankruptcy filing. Otherwise, file for bankruptcy and make it all go away.

    There is nothing to fear, when you are bankrupt. Lawsuits cannot scare you. You have nothing! You are as care-free as the bum on the street.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Collection accounts may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. We explained this in detail in this article: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Possibly. The post Can a Debt Collector Come After My Social Security explains which money can be garnished by the IRS and which is protected. Hope it’s useful to you.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Hannah –

    My understanding is that the statute of limitations in California for most consumer debts is four years. That time period stops when the bill was due and you failed to pay it. If you haven’t made any additional payments then it is probably too old for them to successfully sue you to collect. You can write to the collection agency, tell them you don’t believe you owe the debt and that it’s too old anyway, and ask them to stop contacting you. If they contact you again, you’ll want to consult a consumer law attorney. (Of course this is not legal advice – you’ll want to consult an attorney for that.)

    We just wrote about that very issue here: What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

  • CJTooles

    Social Security Disability payments can be garnished by the IRS, Federally Funded Student Loan Organizations and Child Support Collectors.

  • darryl

    if you are receiving social security as your sole income anyone with a judgment CANNOT garnish or take from your bank account those monies issued by the federal government under the social security act, not even the state of california

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Statutes of limitations can vary by location, and they are not the same as how long bills stay on your credit report. We wrote about it here:
    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Are you asking what the statute of limitations is for medical bills? They often fall under consumer debts but it can vary by state. I don’t have a comprehensive list, but often your state attorney general’s office can be helpful.

  • Cam

    I bought a Timeshare in Cancaún México. Immediately I went to cancel it and they did not allow me to do it although Mexican law allows you 5 days to do it. Now I owe close to 30,000 American dollars. They have an American corporation that is trying to collect I have a credit score of 725 and I’m afraid they are going to ruin it. I have send hundred of emails and certify letters with no response. I called them after having to hung for their number and they say to allow them to keep the 7,000 dollars that they charge only credit card and they will cancel. But I refuse to give them my money for nothing. What can I do to save my credit? I’m desperate

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I’d suggest you talk with a consumer protection attorney right away. $30,000 and your credit rating is not a small matter and it would be best for you to get legal advice. Visit NACA.net to find one in your area. Alternatively, you could try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but I am not sure whether they will have jurisdiction since the transaction took place in Mexico.

  • Margaret

    Just as valid, yes….but most individuals do not know how to collect once they win the judgement, and collecting on it is your own problem.

  • helpme

    i received a collection threat from western in texas corp office claiming to send me threw court well i made payment arrgment of 50 a month . have been paying every month on time receive recpt balances i org owed like 500 bill rec shows like bal of 290 but payment of 47 everytime i try to pay alittle more only 47 is applied to bal can smone tell me what i can do i had made arrgmnts to pay the whole 50 to the balance they claim only 45 -47 is going to bal other is late fees well late fees were removed as per corp when i made arrangemnts

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      Have you made contact with them and requested an precise outline of how all monies are being applied?

      Do you have your payment arrangements in writing?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    We’ve emailed you a couple of questions to help us better understand your situation. Meanwhile, it’s important to understand that the time a debt can be reported (7 years and 180 days after the original debt went late) is often different from the time it can be collected. We wrote about it here:
    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    What exactly does that tradeline report? Any way to copy and paste it into an email? It is a little hard to advise without knowing exactly what is being reported.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    My understanding is that it depends on whether they try to sue you in the state where you took out the loans (North Dakota) or the state where you now live. It sounds like you have multiple debts you haven’t been able to pay. If that’s the case, you may want to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney to find out what your options are.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    We wrote about that very topic here: New Federal Rule Protects Benefits from Garnishment

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It depends on where they try to sue you (if they do). Are the statute of limitations much different in the two states?

  • Becky

    What if you owe 900 dollars and you have a job but low money left to use and you offer to pay 50 dollars a month and the refusal to take anything lower than 100 on a medical bill. I have to go to court and I don’t think it’s fair for them to refuse payment.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Becky —
      A creditor doesn’t have to accept what you offer to pay. You’re not alone in your frustration, though. You can read more about it (and the possibility of an “implied contract”) here:
      Can I Pay a Creditor Less Than I Owe?

  • http://www.chinweokorie.com/ Chinwe Okorie

    This doesn’t address closed accounts? Is it open season for closed accounts?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Whether an account is opened or closed doesn’t change the statute of limitations. Is that what you mean?

      • http://www.chinweokorie.com/ Chinwe Okorie

        yeah that’s what i meant

  • Kathryn Ringer

    I had a credit card back in 2000 and the debt then was 250 dollars originally. Just the other day, now it is 15 years later, they call stating they want 1500 dollars. The statute of limitation is 5-7 years in Illinois, but I moved to Oklahoma and the statute there is 3-5 years. Now since the loan originated in Illinois, do I go by the statute in illinois, or since the crediting company is calling from Oklahoma, where I reside now, do I go by statute of limitations in Oklahoma. Any way this goes, I don’t plan on paying since my ex opened the card and never paid. Do I have a chance of being sued if the debt is 15 years old?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Kathryn – It sounds like the statute of limitations has likely expired in both states so I am not sure why you are concerned about that. (I am not an attorney so this is not definitive.) This article may help: What Happens If I Never Pay an Old Debt?

  • Huntsvillecoalition 4Democracy

    A member of my group received a 1099-C from a credit card defaulted on in 2009. The code shows that it is due to “policy” not a judgment or settlement. Can they cancel debt without your agreement? There has been no contact on this debt in more than 3 years but the person has a current account with an other company serviced by this bank.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      They can certainly cancel a debt without your agreement but as to whether they should be sending out a 1099-C at this late date is more controversial. Some taxpayers have disputed 1099-Cs by challenging the fact that they were sent too late – beyond the 3-year trigger for an identifiable event. See this article for more information: The Little-Known Form for Avoiding a Big Tax Bill

  • Brat10

    Question: If a collection record is from a medical bill from 2009 and the state of Missouri statute dictates a 5 year statute of limitations, can that collection still be pursued?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      In most states, collectors can try to collect after the statute of limitations has expired but they can’t misrepresent the debt and if they try to sue you, you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense. If you let the collector know via certified mail that you know the statute of limitations has expired and ask them not to contact you again, there’s a good chance you won’t hear from them again.

      • Brat10

        How does that affect the credit report?

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          The statute of limitations and the amount of time a debt or collection account can be reported are two different time periods. We wrote about that here: Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Samantha

    I have a bill from a hospital from 5 years ago and had no clue about it, a month ago they added it to my credit, are they allowed to do that?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I assume it is reported as a collection account? They are allowed to report the status of the debt each month for up to 7 years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. Is that what you are asking?

  • Mark Gilbert

    I Financed a van with Fairlane Credit in 1998/1999 and it was repossessed around 2000ish. And now 15 years later they put a Judgement on me for more than double at over $23.508.22 . I know that New York has a 6 year Statute of Limitations on all yes all Loans. So what Fairlane Credit did was Illegial. I emailed there lawyer stating they have to reverse the Judgement against me and contact all 3 credit companies to correct what they did to my credit. Or I would Sue Fairlane Credit for Millions of Dollars.

  • Chris Brown

    Hi there – question – I just received a call from a collection agency threatening to take me to court if I dont pay off my debt. It was a cellphone account – last payment received August 17, 2006 but was sold to collection agency November 18, 2010. I was under the assumption this is “time barred debt” as the last payment was more than 6 years ago (State of CT Ch. 926 Sec 52-576). Can they still sue me? This has dropped off my credit it has been so long.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It certainly sounds like that’s the case. You may be dealing with a debt buyer that is skirting the law, or perhaps even a scammer. It sounds like you know your rights. You can instruct them to stop calling and if they don’t report them to the CFPB.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    If this happened in 2008, then it’s my understanding the statute of limitations in Indiana would be for six years (assuming this is a personal consumer debt). However, I am not a consumer law attorney so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Georgia

    Does a judgement have an expiration date in GA.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      My understanding is they have a 7 year statute of limitations and can be renewed, however I am not an attorney so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Jerry

    Very misleading. These time lines only apply if the creditor has not gotten a judgement against you. Virginia has 5 years on car loans, but if you lose your car for nonpayment, it is almost a guarantee that the bank will get a judgement on you. The judgement is valid for 20 years, with a one time reissue for another 20 years. This puts the timeline that the creditor, or who ever buys the debt, can attempt to collect at 40 years from the day the judgment is issued. Lose a $5000 car at 30 and everything you inherit at 50 can go to some random debt purchaser (likely by seizing your bank account). Or you can just wake up one day 30 years later and learn that your wages are being garnished. There are no protections for those who don’t pay their debts.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Jerry – You are right that there is another statute of limitations for judgments. Thanks for mentioning that – we are in the process of a revision and will try to include that.

  • Are you sure?

    Big debt collectors are slime bags. I had a big law firm trying to collect a debt I never owed. They tried to bluff me, but I told them let’s go to court. In court I let them make their case then I cross examined them making them look like fools. Here big time law firm had 5 lawyers there thinking they would walk over me, but I gave them a surprise. The jury was out 10 to 15 minuets and returned with a 12 to 0 verdict in my favor. The judge decided to add a little insult to the law firm’s injuries; He told me to get a law degree in case he ever got in trouble I could defend him because I sure made the big time lawyers look silly. One of the lawyers filed a complaint on the judge for saying that, but the state dismissed it because he had already dismissed court when he said it.

  • Are you sure?

    It all depends on what state it is in different states have different laws.

  • dragonsfly

    I had to laugh when I read “Statute of Limitations (SOL)”, we’ve used SOL as far back as I can remember. Of course it was better know as “*Stuff* Out of Luck” in our house! Fitting, I suppose.

  • Tom Bohon

    Would be nice if, somewhere in this article, it mentioned the fact that the state-by-state results are YEARS … good grief!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Thanks for pointing that out Tom! Noted – working on an update.

  • Cecilia

    I lost my job in 2012 & was unemployed for almost a year. As a result, I fell several months behind on my vehicle payment & voluntarily surrendered it back to the finance company. Since that time I have heard absolutely nothing from them. No attempts to collect the remaining debt, no phone calls, nothing. How long will this debt stay on my credit report? What is the statue of limitations in the state of Kentucky regarding collection of this debt? I’ve tried looking myself, but it may as well be trying to read gibberish as to what kind of sense that it makes to me. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You surrendered it in 2013? That’s not that long ago and I doubt the statute of limitations has expired. (it’s either 5 or 15 years but I am not certain either.) The fact that you haven’t heard anything doesn’t mean you won’t.

      At any rate, a repossession – voluntary or involuntary – can be reported for seven years.

  • Harold Kerr II

    Disability is safe from garnishment. It is in the Social Security law. When I got on SSDI I told all my creditors and no one bothered me again.

  • alemap

    Karen, I experienced this, but I, literally had no income, and no assets. I was still ordered to pay the debt. They accepted a smaller amount IF I paid it within a certain time frame, and if I didn’t I would be responsible for the full amount. They would attach a lien on any future purchases. If no purchases, then it would be attached to my estate upon death. If the person still owns nothing, it’s then a write-off. Just a lot of stress. Best wishes.

  • Lydia

    Can a collection agency collect on a debt that has been “charged off”

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Yes.

  • joey b

    Over 5 years ago I paid my landlord w/ a check. They didn’t cash the check & when I questioned them about it, they said it was OK & that they cashed it & the rent was paid. After I moved out, they came to me & said they found the uncashed check & wanted me to repay the rent. I told them it was no longer my problem or obligation to pay it. They keep coming back & asking for the money. Is there any legal obligation on my part to pay again? I live in Massachusetts.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      My understanding is the statute of limitations for most consumer debts in MA is 6 years, so it may not be too late for them to try to collect. If you know you didn’t pay that month’s rent you may want to go ahead and pay it to avoid legal action. But I am not an attorney so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Marie

    Is the SOL set by the state the debt was originated in or the current stat u live in?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      @Marie – please see the answer to @josie – she asked this same question and I just answered it there. Hope it helps.

  • frank

    they can only take your disability for back taxes,child support or alimony. every state is like this. it’s a federal loan

  • Kenny Hickerson

    I spent 7 years in the NAVY on submarines during the 80 s . During a torpedo reload a chain broke and it broke my back. I was making 48 k once on disabilty pay it went to 26k. I could not pay my credit card bills and took all my money out of a 401k I took out almost 90k to stop my house from foreclosure. I did not pay taxes my mistake . The IRS says I owe 42k in back taxes and interest and fees from 6 years ago. Now for the last 2 years they are taking 15 % of my disabilty pay. I get calls all the time from debtors

  • Debtor B Free

    Don’t take legal advice from the comments section of any website.

  • nancygold

    We’re looking at a huge IRS tax on a piece of undeveloped land in FL which we owed a bank $150,000…it is worth maybe $2000…ten yrs ago we bought it..can IRS make a payment schedule to pay this “income” off? think it might be as much as $40,000…bank foreclosed..

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Talk with a tax professional who handles tax problems. This is a large amount of debt and you need to make sure you understand all your options.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      As much as we’d like to help we suggest you consult a tax professional who helps taxpayers resolve these kinds of problems. It’s a large amount of money and the IRS has extraordinary collection powers.

  • Enzi-Chan

    Is there a statute of limitations on student debt?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      On private student loans yes; on federal debt no.

  • Serai 1

    I take it the numbers in the results refer to years collectors have to collect, right?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Typically if the statute of limitations has expired, you can raise it as a defense if the debt collector tries to sue you. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try to collect (in most states); however if you tell them to stop contacting you they must do so.

  • Bad Habit

    I had two credit cards and paid the additional $10 per month per $1000 on each of them for credit insurance that was supposed to cover the cost of my debt should I become injured or unemployed.

    In late 2007, the company I worked for folded and went completely out of business.
    After years of paying for this credit insurance I contacted them to inform them that I had lost my job and was putting in a claim.

    Even though I had a layoff notice and had no problem applying for state unemployment insurance, the credit card company refused to accept my claim without a notarized statement from the company CFO and a phone number where he could be contacted.

    When I told them the company no longer existed, there was no CFO anymore, and there was no one to call since the company did not exist anymore, they denied my claim.

    I get statements from them every quarter. My initial debt of less than $3000 on both cards has now ballooned to over $89,000 total in fines, late fees, and interest compounded at an annual rate of 103% (yes, one hundred and three percent!)

    I can’t help but laugh every time I get a statement.

    If they hadn’t lied to me and tried to cheat me from the very beginning they wouldn’t be out their initial $3K and they wouldn’t have wasted at least another $3K in the last 7 years trying to get me to pay the ridiculous numbers they keep throwing at me.

    I have made statements to each of the reporting credit bureaus (which are part of my credit history). My current score is 795 even with these idiots constantly dinging my credit.

    Apparently, even the credit reporting industry knows these people are morons.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Wow. Have you considered filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

  • sandy

    what’s the law on NY state business tax? My son was buying a pizzeria business land contract back in 2001 and he ended up with the original owner taking back the business without changing the tax info and removing his name, he was later incarcerated and was unaware of the situation. He has turned his life around working in a kitchen under the poverty level , but every time he tries to get ahead and save a few dollars in the bank the state of NY takes all his money. A murderer released from prison after doing his time has a better outlook financially than he does, it is a difficult way to survive in a techno driven financial society without being able to acquire a credit score or be able to save money for the future.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Have you spoken to a tax professional in your area? They may be able to help him resolve the tax debt.

  • Ticker

    That is a government loan and can be collected via garnishment from your SS check. Had it been a non government type loan it could not be collected or garnished from your SS or VA disability.

  • josie

    so If I have debt in NV the statue is 6 years but now I live in MO so which statue applies? NV debt, NV statue?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Josie – Here’s the same answer I just gave to another commenter: The answer to your question depends on a number of factors and I can’t give you a simple answer. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector can sue only in in the district where the consumer signed the contract, or where the consumer lives. Sometimes the statute of limitations where the lawsuit takes place will apply, but in some cases the court has applied the statute of limitations where the contract was made. We are working on an article on this topic. In the meantime, I’d suggest you be familiar with the statute of limitations in both states and if you are notified of a lawsuit talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • Maks

    “Obama phones” have been around longer than Obama and are limited on usage. No iPhones, no data, very limited minutes. Contrary to popular belief, Obama isn’t responsible for everything since polio. Let’s aim for accuracy.

  • LarryCook

    What about a state sponsored student loan I co-signed for my son who hasn’t paid a dime on the loan but hasn’t heard from the collection company that subpoenaed me? In response to the subpoena I had to file an “Appearance” with the court and send the collectors a copy. The loan is from 2003. I’ve been provided no information about the original loan and the state office that handles student loans says it has no record of a loan that includes my name. I am disabled and on SS and Medicare and have had Parents Plus loans dismissed, but I don’t know how I can apply for that from the state if it has no record of me owing it money.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Larry – I’m at a loss too. You could try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Or if you can swing it get a consultation with a student loan lawyer – you can find one via TheStudentLoanLawyer.com.

  • Yo_Its_Me

    It kills me that I had a loan from carhop for a car that got towed away & I lost my license after a DUI. (been sober 2 yrs now, btw) But I found out carhop got the car from the impound lot, but they’re still after me for the $4k I owed on teh vehicle. I’m trying to put my life back together & know basics of credit restoration, but this isn’t basic & I don’t know what to do to get them off my back & quit leaving another mark on my credit report. Anyone?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Assuming the statute of limitations hasn’t expired, you have two ways to put this debt behind you: negotiate a settlement or file for bankruptcy. (You could also wait it out until the statute of limitations has expired but you run the risk you could be sued in the meantime.) We have lots of articles on negotiating settlements on debt if that’s the route you want to go.

      • Yo_Its_Me

        Thanks Gerri.

        1. To clarify: so if we wait it out (I think SOL in MN is 6…I’d have to check that great link you provided) til after the 6 yrs (or whatever the SOL is) then they are then not allowed to harass us for payment?

        2. Does the SOL start from when I first incurred the debt, like when I bought the car, or when I first became delinquent on payments?

        I sure was hoping to rebuild my credit in the next year or so, but I bought that car Jly 2012 & missed my 1st payment around Jan or Feb 2013.

        Even if I could afford it, I would have a hard time paying for a car which I no longer have, which they repossessed and have in their possession. (Although I think they scrapped it, but I’m not sure.)

        3. Also, I thought I had read that creditors sell their debt and when another company buys it, the SOL clock starts all over again, so one could potentially get debtor calls forever if the debt keeps getting sold off. No?

        4. I know if I make one little payment, the SOL starts all over again, right?

        Thanks a ton for your help. The few minutes you take to respond saves me hours and hours of research (too much info on the net!) and even then, I might not interpret it all correct. I can’t thank you enough for your service. Going to tweet you to my 5k followers right now, as the best I can do to repay.

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          Thank you so much for the kind words. You’ve raised some great questions and an another article is in the works. Here are some brief answers:

          1. They can usually still try to collect after the SOL expires, but if they try to sue you can raise the SOL as a defense against the lawsuit.

          2. It usually starts when you first fall behind on the debt.

          3. No, selling a debt does not start it all over again.

          4. Yes, if you make a payment it starts again.

          Does that answer your questions? I’ll try to remember to post a link her to the new article when it goes up.

  • Trish

    2005 I was defrauded by an online loan. We had to try to make payments but one bank was sold and we could not find any place to contact them. thus a judgment was put on our home. It is 10 years later and we are wondering what the statutes of limitations would be on this account

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      If there is a court judgment against you it has its own statute of limitations; often 10 – 20 years and renewable in most states. Make sure you get a copy of your credit report to find out when the judgment was filed. Then you’ll need to find out what the statute of limitations is for *judgments* in your state. This article may be useful: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

      • Trish

        Thanks Gerri for your answer. However the judgment does not appear on my credit report. How may I access the court records to see if it is still on the property.

  • harleylady

    What is the time a statute of limitation applies if you missed a payment and couldn’t pay a debt if you lived in one state when it happened and then moved to another state? Does the statute of limitations apply to the old state or the state you currently live in?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      The answer to your question depends on a number of factors and I can’t give you a simple answer. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector can sue only in in the district where the consumer signed the contract, or where the consumer lives. Sometimes the statute of limitations where the lawsuit takes place will apply, but in some cases the court has applied the statute of limitations where the contract was made. We are working on an article on this topic. In the meantime, I’d suggest you be familiar with the statute of limitations in both states and if you are notified of a lawsuit talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • Lore Earll

    The trick is in his SOURCE of debt. Gov’t payments cannot be garnished for ANYTHING by ANYONE except the gov’t itself; I.E. – gov’t student loans, back taxes, etc. Since it’s a bank going after him, THEY CAN’T TOUCH HIM no matter which court they go from. They are planning on him being ignorant of that. And further, if he’s actually on SSDI instead of straight SS, EVEN THE GOV’T CAN’T GARNISH THE MONEY.

  • danielle athena

    How about an old court ticket/fine from 22 years ago. I can’t find the receipt and they are threatening to suspend my license. Is there a statue of limitations for this? The fine is from 1993; just received notice on it. Can they do this?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Government debt collection is often a world unto itself. The same consumer protection laws and statute of limitations that apply to private consumer debts often do not apply. (We don’t have a state-by-state listing so we can’t say for certain what the rules are in your case.) You may want to contact your state attorney general’s office, which usually has a consumer protection division, to find out what your rights are. CNN Money also did a recent eye-opening investigation into government debt collection which you’ll find on their site.

  • Meredith Lewis

    What about mortgages that was written off and a company bought it and trying to collect.?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      The statute of limitations will still apply. Not sure what you’re asking…?


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