Home > Managing Debt > 7 Things to Know About the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Statute of Limitations

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Did you know that debt has an expiration date? It’s actually subject to a legal statute of limitations, which limits how long debt collector can sue to collect an unpaid balance owed to a creditor. If the debt collector waits too long, and the statute of limitations has expired, they can’t sue to collect the balance. That limit is determined by the statute of limitations (SOL) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Limitations vary by state and the type of debt.

Limitations are usually between three and six years, but some longer limits do exist. Of course, never depend on using the SOL as a way to solve your money issues.

Why? Because the statute of limitations have nothing to do with how long an unpaid debt stays on your credit report, which is generally 7 years. A court can also award a judgment to a creditor on time-barred debt, which is a debt you didn’t repay and can’t be collected because the SOL has expired, if you don’t show up to fight it. Plus, there are ways to unknowingly restart the SOL clock.

So, if you have unpaid debts, know the statute of limitations that applies to those debts. To check your credit for outstanding accounts, pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your free Experian credit report summary on credit.com.

About the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The FDCPA is a federal law that limits the actions of third-party debt collectors attempting to collect a debt on behalf of a creditor or lender. In other words, it protects consumers from unfair debt collection practices taken by third-party deb collectors.

The act gives the consumer the right to sue a collector who uses unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. The FDCPA also outlines a range of potential damages that a consumer can receive, such as monetary damages and attorneys’ fees for the lawsuit.

The FDCPA does not apply to the original creditor or lender. It applies only to a debt collector or collection agency who assumed the collection of the debt. The act prohibits any deceptive practices used to collect payment on a consumer’s debt.

Definition of a Creditor

A creditor is the original entity that extends a line of credit to the consumer; in other words, the original lender on an account. FDCPA statute of limitations don’t apply to debts owed to the original creditor.

Definition of a Debt Collector

A debt collector is a third-party company that attempts to collect on that debt it purchased from a creditor. Third-party collectors include debt collection agencies and collection attorneys. FDCPA protections do apply to a debt collector.

Exceptions to the FDCPA

The FDCPA applies to consumer debt, not business debt. It covers debt that are not in default when purchased by the collector. This means that the original creditor must sell the debt to the third-party collector before the debt goes into default.

Federal and state employees and legal process servers are also exempt from the FDCPA.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Statute of Limitations FAQs

Here are the seven most commonly asked questions about the FDCPA statute of limitations.

  1. How long Is the FDCPA statute of limitations for my debt?

The SOL period starts when you fall behind on a debt or from the date of your last payment. The length of the SOL depends on state law for that type of debt. This map on this page to state statute of limitations, offers some basic guidance. Know though, that SOLs are not clear-cut. So, check with your state attorney general’s office, a consumer law attorney, or legal aid, especially if you’re threatened with legal action.  

  1. Can a debt collector try to collect after the SOL has expired? 

In many cases, yes. However, if you tell the debt collector not to contact you again, they are legally mandated to comply. It’s always a good idea to put your request in writing. Once the collector receives your written request, it can only contact you only to confirm that it received your request or notify you of legal action.

In some states, trying to collect a time-barred debt is illegal, and a collector attempting to do so is breaking the law. 

  1. If the SOL has expired, can I still be sued? 

It isn’t uncommon for consumers to be sued for time-barred debts. If you’re sued for an old debt, and the statute of limitations has expired, you can use the expired statute of limitations as a defense against the lawsuit. Find a few of the other debt collection defenses you can use.

However, many consumers don’t show up to court. This opens the door for the creditor or collector to get a judgment against them. So, don’t ignore a legal notice about a debt, even if you think the statute of limitations has expired. Find a consumer law attorney or bankruptcy attorney for help if a third-party collector tries to collect the debt.

  1. Should I pay an old debt? 

That’s something only you can decide. However, paying anything — even a small amount — on an old debt, can restart the statute of limitations. That’s why it can be risky to pay an old debt if you aren’t able to pay it in full. If you do, you can open yourself up to collection efforts, or even a lawsuit, for the entire amount the collector says you owe. 

  1. Can a debt still appear on my credit reports after the SOL has expired? 

In many cases, yes. The length of time that negative information can be reports on your credit is governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Most negative information can be reported for seven years.

The statute of limitations for most consumer debts, on the other hand, is four to six years. If the statute of limitations expires on a debt in four years, the related collection account can still appear on your credit reports for another three years after that. And, yes, collection accounts can do significant damage to your credit scores.

  1. I took out a deb in one state, and later moved to another. Which state’s SOL applies?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Consumers can be sued in the state where they took out the loan or the state where they currently live. Sometimes the statute of limitations is based on the laws of the state noted in the contract. For credit cards, the state is noted in the credit card agreement. 

When it isn’t clear which state’s SOL applies, it’s often up to the court to decide. In many court cases, the shortest statute of limitations is applied. But that’s not true in all cases. That’s why it is helpful, if you’re sued for a debt, to consult with a consumer law attorney who can help you understand if the statute of limitation has expired.

  1. What is the SOL for court judgements? 

If creditors or collectors have a court judgment, there’s often a separate statute of limitations that applies. If you have unresolved debts, be sure to get your free annual credit reports to see if they include any judgments. In many states, debts remain on your reports for 10 years or more, and judgments can be renewed. Learn more about how about judgments work.

This article was originally published April 20, 2017, and has been updated by another author.

Image: iStock

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  • unwinding time

    Hello, if a person has credit card debt 3 years old in the District of Columbia, and is unable to pay for lack of work, then moves to Florida, can they still collect in the state of florida? I understand that DC has a 3 year statute of limitation but Florida has 5 years. Does moving to florida gives the creditor 2 extra years? Thank you.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      It depends on state laws, but generally each state honors the statute of limitations in the state the debt was originally taken out and owed in, so moving wouldn’t change the timeframe.



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

    Hi, Liza. We gave your question to a consumer law attorney, and wrote a story including his answer. Here it is: http://blog.credit.com/2016/08/can-an-old-unpaid-bill-keep-me-from-getting-an-apartment-153097/ We hope that helps!

  • Pam Mcnutt

    How do you do that?

  • J

    Does the statue of limitations only start when you make a first payment on a medical bill?

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

    Hi, Michael. We can’t give you legal advice, so you’re probably best off consulting a local consumer law or bankruptcy attorney.

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

    Hi, I have a 4 years old hospital debt that went to collections,2 months ago I called the collection agency to try to start making payments,they were asking for more than 400 dlls monthly,first I thought I should do it,I really want to pay,but than I realized I can afford that monthly payment,so I called again to cancel the payment plan,will that restart the SOL?

  • Betty

    Just got a phone call from a collector for a 20 year old car loan that was repossessed. They are telling me that there is a judgement against me and a court date is set. What should I do? Nothing is on my credit report.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Ask for written verification of the debt. That’s the first step to determining if the debt is legitimate. You can find more info here:

      You can find more info here: http://blog.credit.com/2014/09/how-to-tell-if-youre-talking-to-a-fake-debt-collector-95177/



    • V

      Respond to court documents immediately then don’t pay no money that restarts debt. The Judge will see this debt is pass statutory limitations and throw it out you then sue for harassment from then orally and get paid Also demand proof they can collect debt legally ask for original document after 20 years they don’t have it

  • Anonymous

    I have a student loan with a bank (not government). It was taken out in 2008 and would’ve defaulted for no payments made by 1/1/2010 six months after I graduated. I have never paid on this loan so I’m pretty sure they’ve met the statute of limitations for Utah. They also sent me a letter saying I settled on the debt in 2014. I have never paid on the debt, but it is stopping me from being able to get a home and I am concerned if they can still sue or get a judgement? I believe it has to come off my credit in about one more year correct? Or do they reset the time it can be reported when sold to third parties and the reporting started in 2014?

    • AngryTwig

      Defaults or charge offs come off your credit report in 7 years. However they will be sending you a 1099 C. You must file this with your income taxes and pay taxes because the IRS will see this is now income since you never paid it. The Lender will also send the 1099 C to the IRS so there is no running from it. No, the length of time on your credit report does not start over if they sell your debt. You may see a collections added to your credit report but the original charge off will fall off your report in 7 years.

  • bicycleman

    I received a demand for almost $1,000 from a debt collector for a Sprint bill that I believe is over 10 years old, and I called the collector and asked for a recap of all of the charges. Will that somehow restart the SOL?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Asking for verification of the debt should not reset the SOL.



      • Yodii

        Hi, I have a 4 years old hospital debt that went to collections,2 months ago I called the collection agency to try to start making payments,they were asking for more than 400 dlls monthly,first I thought I should do it,I really want to pay,but than I realized I can afford that monthly payment,so I called again to cancel the payment plan,will that restart the SOL

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    You may want to consult a consumer attorney about your best recourse.

    Thank you,


  • BC

    The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text#805) allows you to request that the debt collector cease and desist from all communication re: the debt. If you do send the debt collector a letter requesting they no longer contact you, does that restart the statue of limitations?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      A collection account remains for 7 years plus 180 days from the date the account was delinquent leading up to when it was placed for collection. After that time, it must be removed regardless of when it was paid or when it was placed for collection.

      More info here: http://blog.credit.com/2013/04/how-long-does-negative-information-stay-on-my-credit-report-65360/

      Thank you,


      • BC

        But there are certain things that the consumer can do to restart the SOL clock. Does asking the debt collector to validate the debt or sending them a cease letter restart that clock? I keep hearing about them using loopholes.

  • Lisa Smith

    I meant to say, this is regarding a credit card debt. I am also trying to get disability due to deteriorating health. The house I own contributes to my poor health, have tried to sell it, but ended up with a joke of a Realtor; I can’t afford to live elsewhere unless I sell my house.

  • Lisa Smith

    I live in Indiana, I am 61 years old, make less than $10,000 a year and credit car creditors have been harassing me since they were unable to receive money from garnishing my wages. Can they put a lien on my property or force me to sell my house? What options or rights do I have; this debt dates back almost 20 years ago.


  • P Taioe

    I have old debt that is not getting finished and my salary finishes before Ieven try to pay it, and an old credit card debt from 2008 that I pay through the lawyers what can I do with these old debts if they still want me to pay and I cant afford them

  • S Chaudhry

    hi , I left the US altogether in August 2002 and have not returned since, I have a few credit card debts and an outstanding tuition fee bill that I did not pay. the debt collectors have not sent me any information to my adress abroad in Germany in any way shape or form? What should I do since I am thinking of visiting the US soonish

    • NonGMO

      have you tried your free credit report and see what it says …

  • Evelyn Adamo

    I had 4 old credit cards that went into charge offs. It has been 10 or more yrs since they were past due. They have been sold to debt collectors and they file every year. I am wondering can I file an SOL letter to the credit agency and have them removed?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You may want to consult a consumer attorney about your best option.

      Thank you,


      • Evelyn Adamo

        You must work for the credit agencies. My old debts are 10 yrs old. SOL applies. Why would I want to hire a attorney? If letters do not take care of the issue than to hell with it. The banks can bail out in 8 yrs, on our dime, but we are indebted for life?? Where is THAT rule?

  • Shannon Nealey

    My recommendation is to never offer to pay a debt unless the creditor agrees to delete the item from the credit report. Pay using a credit, debit or prepaid card so you can dispute the charges and get the money back if the creditor fails to uphold their part of the agreement and not delete the offending debt. I’ve had this happen to me and I paid with my bank card and when they did not uphold their end, I disputed the charge and got my money back. They tried to sue me, but when I showed up in court–they weren’t banking on that happening–the judge determined that they were in violation of the agreement, which was in writing and they had to delete the item from my credit report, which they did, but they continued collection efforts.

    So I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012 and included the debt. It has since been discharged and now they are still reporting it on my credit report and continuing collection activity. I filed an action in bankruptcy court and I won a small settlement, but they are still trying to collect on this debt, which dates back to 2002, I might add. So I am going to file a second action and take them to court again and maybe this time I might get a large enough settlement to make these creditors cease further collection activity. Or maybe not; I like getting money from them.

    What people fail to understand is that once a debt is reported on their credit, the damage is done. Even if they pay it, it can remain on the credit report for seven years and it can still damage credit. There’s really no point in paying the debt unless the creditor agrees to delete it so to minimize the damage. Otherwise, you just end up putting out money and getting no benefit. Yes, one should pay their debts, but the whole point is to keep credit clean and sometimes people fall on hard times. Sometimes they miss a debt. It happens. It’s for the best for creditors and debt collectors to work with debtors and erase derogatory items once they are paid because both parties benefit. The creditor gets paid and the debtor gets to clean their credit. Win-win.

  • DeeDee

    A couple in Texas defaulted on a loan. I have a signed loan agreement + 14 hot checks. Just after writing the 14 repayment checks, they closed that bank account. The signed loan agreements state that the loan should be repaid in full no later than September 2011.

    They made no payments from 2011 until March 2015. In March they paid $100, & they have made payments of $100/month each month from March 2015 thru November 2015. They made no December 2015 payment & they are not communicating with me. I’m very tired of dealing with this situation & have the following questions: did the statue of limitations restart in March, 2015 when they started to repay this note? Can I seek a judgement in small claims court? The current balance is $5500. I live in Colorado;they live in Texas so which state has jurisdiction? Thank you!

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You may want to speak with a consumer attorney about your best recourse.

      Thank you,


  • Jeanine Skowronski

    You can find more information about the statute of limitations in each state here:


    Thank you,


  • Elaine F.

    I have a debt with a creditor which is beyond my ability to pay and is now reporting as a charge off. When I asked what my options were they said I had to pay the debt (even the settlement amount) with in 30 days. I explained this was out of my ability to do and they said that was the only option I had. I asked if I could arrange for some form of monthly payment to pay off the debt and they couldn’t guarantee anything nor could they tell me when my account was going to collections. Meanwhile I don’t know what to do with that debt. Any suggestions?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Elaine,

      Unfortunately, creditors are not obligated to negotiate payment plans on defaulted debts and can send these accounts to collections, even if you are making small payments. You can find some tips for negotiating with creditors here: https://www.credit.com/debt/ten-tips-for-negotiating-with-creditors/

      Thank you,


  • Juanita Saunders

    I had a credit card charged off June 21,2007. Today I received paperwork thru my employer stating a lawyer representing a collection agency is going to start garnishing my wages. Can this happen?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Typically, a wage garnishment can happen after the collector has secured a court judgement against you.



  • Kentucky

    I know someone that has a Harley Davidson and they have not made one payment on this bike. They have had it for over a year now. Someone called a friend of his and said that a reward would be made for info. Is this true?

    • Jeanine Skowronski


      Generally debt collectors are prohibited from identifying themselves as debt collectors when they call a third-party to get location information about the debtor. In fact, all they can do is ask for location information so it sounds like this caller is breaking the law.

      Thank you,


      • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=41063359&trk=tab_pro Lee

        Actually Jeanine police often work on tips as means to an end. Yes tips are legal even paid ones.

  • Maryland

    I just recently start receiving a call from a credit collector about a cable bill. This account was closed back in Oct. 2010. I live in Maryland and it looks like the SOL here is three years. Can I claim this as invalid? Thank you.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Maryland,

      You may want to consult a consumer attorney to learn what your legal options may be.

      Thank you,


    • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=41063359&trk=tab_pro Lee

      I’d get a lawyer if there is still a contest about. it’s the only way to clear it up. Have you tried the hot line?

  • virginia

    I cosigned for my son to go to truck driving school and he never paid anything on it but in june of 2005 I agreed to pay half of the balance and have my name taken off the loan and I have the agreement in writing. my son never attempted to make a payment and now they are saying I am again responsible to pay this loan which has now grown to almost 15,000.00 dollars I feel as though I should not be bothered any more is it legal to take my name off the loan and now put it back a nd take my taxes and garnish my wages I live in Kansas

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

      Virginia —
      You may need to contact a consumer-law attorney. If your name is not on the loan, it is hard to understand how you could be held responsible.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=41063359&trk=tab_pro Lee

      you can file for a debt adjustment if the balance is over 13K. Don’t wait for them to talk to your boss. Get an attorney and avoid those hassles.

  • LR

    If I co-signed on a Private Student Loan, can that be discharged through bankruptcy? I filed bankruptcy in 2012 and was told at the time that it could not be discharged. I am wondering if I was misinformed.

  • GG

    I have debt that is past the 4 year statute of limitations (CA) which was from a business I once owned with my now ex-husband. He filed for bankruptcy two years ago (after we were divorced). Did his bankruptcy re-start the statute of limitations for the debt that is all now my responsibility?

  • Ahmed

    I live in Michigan which has 6 years SOL. Last week I was served a summons for a credit card debt that’s exactly 6 years old. Can I get sued if I can prove my last payment date OCT 01, 2009?

  • Jessica Rinker

    I’m hoping you can shed some light on this for me. I have private student loans that I have been unable to pay back. I get collection calls only occasionally regarding the debt, and they refer to them as “private federal loans.” I am 100% they are private. I pay my federal student loans on time. I mentioned the statute of limitations to the debt collector, and she said the loans are from 2007 and went into repayment on 2011. I live in Texas but was in school in Georgia when I took the loans out. I was young and stupid and had no way of repaying the amount they loaned to me. I had only a part-time job and my major was Art History, which is information that were aware of when giving me the loan! And I know loans like these are why the private student loan sector went through a reform. Can my wages me garnished for private student loans? Does the statute of limitations apply to private student loans? When does it actually start? Thanks.

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

      Your wages can be garnished only if they go to court and get a judgment against you. (So if you get a notice of a lawsuit, it’s smart to go to court.)
      The statute of limitations starts either when you last made a payment or when you defaulted. Here’s more information:
      Is There a Statute of Limitation for My Student Loans?

  • Ann

    Hi Gerri.
    I just received a collection notice for an two year old road toll violation fee.
    Two years ago my credit card was not working while driving through the toll both. So received a toll violation notice with a 50 dollar fee. I called the toll company and the person on the phone told me to only pay the toll itself an that he will take the 50 dollar fee off. He did not take it off, because 3 months later I received another notice that I owed the 50 dollar. I called them again and told them, what had happened. That person on the phone told me to write a dispute letter and gave me an address and name. I did write that letter and have never heard back from them afterward, but the violation number was taken off of my online account. I called the company to see if I had an outstanding amount, they told me I am in good standing. That all happened two years ago.
    So I thought it was solved. Today now, I received a letter from a collection agency for that fee.
    I always pay all my bills. My credit score is 865, which I just had checked two weeks ago.
    How much will my credit score drop now?
    Can I prevent this showing up on my credit report?
    Should I talk to the collection agency?
    What should I do?

    thank you

  • JB

    Gerri: I had a WF business line of credit with personal guaranty. Last payment was made 8/10/2009. My state’s (Utah) SOL is six years. Does statute run from date of last payment or some time after. There have been no payments made since nor any communication acknowledging debt.

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

      Usually from the time you default/ miss a payment. However, I will suggest that you confirm with an attorney to make sure you are in the clear. Our research applies primarily to consumer debt like credit cards, not business debt.

  • Matty

    I had an old Rogers & Hollands charge account that I opened in while in College in Ohio many years ago that I defaulted on during the recession. It got to the point where I was unable to keep up with payments and with late fees and interest, my debt climbed well above the item I purchased initially when opening the account. In fact, considering all the payments I had made, they got their money for the item purchased.. but thats besides the point. Anyways, I ended up moving out of state and I never heard from them again. The account was closed in Aug 03, 2009 and my last payment was made April 20, 2009. Today out of nowhere I received a call from Diamond Law Office in Illinois with a lawyer trying to collect the debt again. By calculation, it’s been over 6 years since this account was closed and I think I’m protected by the statute of limitations. Is that correct? Should I just ignore this guy and see what his next move is? I haven’t received any threatening letters .. I don’t want to pay these jerks any more money than I already have, the damage (on my credit is done) and I’m less than year away from the 7 year limit to have it taken off my record. Once it’s off, I’m going to have pretty good credit as I’ve been fiscally responsible ever since my dumb broke college days. Your opinion would be very much appreciated!

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

      Matty —
      We can never tell you to ignore anything. (Be especially watchful for any signs you are being sued. If you don’t show up for court, they may get a judgment against you). Here’s more on the various dates to watch for:
      Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Patti Gero

    We filed a bankruptcy over 15 years ago, (discharged), on a Capital One credit card, then in 2009 they attempted to take us to court, we never went, now we are getting calls about this old credit card that was discharged. We also sent them a drop dead letter in 2009, and the statue of limitations in Ohio is way past 6 years. Should we sent another drop dead letter, just ignore phone calls, this is crazy.

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

      You have three choices at this point. One is to send another cease contact letter and the second is to file a complaint with the CFPB (or you could do one and two at the same time). The third is to talk with your bankruptcy attorney or a consumer protection attorney who represents consumers in cases against debt collectors. Let us know what happens!

      • Patti Gero

        I sent a complaint to the CFPB, Capital one responded said bankruptcy was discharged in 1997, this account was not part of it, but was written off in 2003, and they have closed it then. This account was acquired by Portfolio Recovery, they have not responded to my complaint, so what is my next thing that I need to do….with the complaint they now have my home address, which bothers me…..Its well over the 6 year limit in Ohio, can they keep trying to collect, when it is no longer owed to Capital One and they have closed this out….Thanks for you information, I truly appreciate it.

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

          If I were in your shoes I would send a cease contact letter by certified mail and if they contacted me again talk with a consumer law attorney. (Which I am not, so please don’t take this as legal advice.)

    • Patti Gero

      How do I contact the CFPB? We will follow up with this, and also send another cease contact letter. Thanks for the info….

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

        Their website is ConsumerFinance.gov. Let us know what happens!

        • Patti Gero

          I did receive a response from Capital One, that credit card was charged off in 2003 and they have closed it out, and no longer are trying to collect on it. Portfolio has not answered the complaint and now since the complaint showed our home address I wonder if we will now get unwanted mail from them, which we will not accept. Any further suggestions, would be greatly appreciated and will keep you posted on what or if we hear from them. Thanks for all of your insight, we greatly appreciate it.

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

            The problems you describe — calling after you sent a cease contact letter and on a debt discharged in bankruptcy more than a decade ago – are serious. Please do let us know how it turns out.

  • margaret southern

    I am 74 yrs and my soc sec check was garnished for 15% for student loans dated 1986-1987. I worked to age 61 without any contact from fed student loans. I went to college but do not remember any loans.. is there a time limit or any relief ??

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

      If these are federal loans there is technically no statute of limitations but I am concerned that you don’t believe you borrowed anything. I’d suggest that you at least file a complaint with the CFPB. It might also be worthwhile to at least get an initial evaluation with a consumer protection attorney conversant in student loan law. And have you read this article about student loan garnishment?

      My Social Security Income Is Being Zapped for Student Loans!

  • Katie

    I recently started receiving calls from a debt collector regarding a gym membership I had for about 5 months back in 2009. From my point of view, I cancelled the membership, they stopped charging me and I haven’t heard anything from them since. The collector informed me that I most likely cancelled the membership incorrectly and owe $500. I am in New York, so I believe the SOL is 6 years. I told the collector that I don’t believe the debt is valid and will not be paying it. Just curious if there is anything else I should do to avoid it affecting my credit.

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

      Did you dispute it in writing with the collection agency? If so, you should do so and keep a copy for your records. There is no way to block them from reporting but monitor your credit (our free credit report card can help) so you can dispute it if it shows up.

      • Katie

        What is the best way to obtain their mailing address? They have never sent me anything in the mail, just phone calls a few times a week that I ignore.

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

          This post may give you some ideas:
          How to Figure Out Who Your Debt Collector Is

          • Katie

            I sent a letter disputing the debt and asked them to cease communication about 3 weeks ago and didn’t hear anything from them for a while. But, starting a few days ago, the calls started again about once a day. So far, I have ignored them. They still have not sent me anything in the mail including proof that the debt is valid, which I believe it is not. I was under the impression that they were required to send me proof of the debt within 5 days of first contact. Is what they are doing legal?

          • Jeanine Skowronski

            Hi, Katie,

            You may want to consult a consumer attorney for legal advice, but this info can be a starting point:

            What to Do When a Debt Collector Breaks the Rules

            Thank you,


  • mariae

    they are constantly calling my to job and wants to speak to me
    the debt is 12 years and they are still calling me

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

      You can ask them not to call you at work. By law, if you do so the calls must stop. If they don’t stop then it’s probably a scammer and that’s harder to deal with. We wrote about that here: 7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls

  • Linda Kaye

    I receive calls every so often, about 2-3 times per year, from a collection agency for a credit card I had about 20 years ago. I heard that if you talk to them and somehow verify information that shows them they have contacted the correct person, it can re-start the statute of limitations. Is this true? It has not been on my credit report for the past 10 years that I have been monitoring it. I don’t know if it was prior to that. If it can never again affect my credit, I do not want to pay it as I am sure it is almost completely pentalties, fees and interest at this point. Thank you.

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

      Chances are good that the debt has been sold for pennies on the dollar, and collectors are trying to collect on money that people are no longer legally required to pay. Verifying information does not re-start the statute of limitations, but think carefully before you do it. (Why would you want to in this case?)

  • Anna

    I read the article about the statute of limitations on debt. Just so I understand correctly, if a debt hasn’t been paid for 6 years and has been on your credit report for 7 plus years, you can ask to have it removed? Thanks for your help!

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

      The reporting period is different than the statute of limitations (in other words one is not dependent on the other). Collection accounts may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor, leading up to when it was placed for collection. If it’s older than that, you can dispute it. Here’s how:
      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Lindsey

    I received a bill from a bill collector, after Never receiving a normal bill from an apartment building I lived in 4 years ago, I received my deposit back and now am being sent to collections…what should I do?

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

      If you receive a collection notice and you don’t believe you owe it you have the right to request verification from the debt collector. You can send them a certified letter stating you don’t believe you owe the debt (or aren’t aware of it, or whatever the issue is) and ask them for validation. What you do after that depends on the response and whether you believe you owe it.

      You may also want to read: Collections Crash Course

  • Disgruntled brother and uncle

    I cosigned on a school loan for $20K for my niece in 2011 and they promised to make all payments on time. I just received a notice that she or her mother has not made a payment since May 2015 and that the loan is going to charge off at the end of this month (August 2015) in the amount of $31K. What can be done about this or should a payment be made?

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

      I am truly sorry to say that you are probably stuck with a mess. If you don’t make the payments, it will ruin your credit and the lender could try to sue you. If you do make the payments, there is no guarantee that your niece or her mother will reimburse you.

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

    You’re going to have to do some digging to find out if this is still valid. This article should point you in the right direction. I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?. if you’re still not sure it’s worth a call to a consumer protection attorney in your state to find out your rights.

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

    Medical collections can be reported for the same amount of time as any other collection account: seven years +180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor. As far as your credit scores are concerned, they are generally treated the same as any other medical debt as well. This article goes into more detail about collection accounts: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit. And this one may help too: Four Medical Bill Myths That Can Cost You Dearly

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

    Unfortunately, I don’t know what your rights would be there. I would suggest you contact your state attorney general’s office, or a consumer law attorney. You may also be able to get more information about your rights at no cost through Legal Aid.

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

    Do you know what this loan is? A federal or private loan? It’s impossible for me to know what to suggest when I don’t know what the loan is. You may want to check the federal National Student Loan Data System website which should list federal loans. You may also want to check your credit reports to see if there is anything on there related to this loan. Beyond that, I am at a loss. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • Michael

    I have some credit card debts . Checking the credit report , I see some of them repoted as ” written off ” , some reported as ” charged off ” . What ‘s the differences ? Last year , at the beginning of 2014 , I received a 1099-C from the bank even though the debt is eight year old , and it was written off in 2008. The bank sold it to a collection agency in 2010 . Due to SOL , the collection agency can not sue me to the court. The question is if the collection agency could send me a 1099-C ? Another question is whether the bank did it right ( or wrong ) when it sent me a 1099-C .

  • tony

    If a credit card debt pass the statute of limitation , can a collection agency ( or the original bank which issued the credit card ) send you a 1099 – C ? Supposed the debt is 7 years old.

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

      It’s possible though in many cases they should have sent it earlier. We wrote about that in several of our 1099-C stories. Here is one of the recent ones: The Little-Known Form for Avoiding a Big Tax Bill

  • Anita N John Smith

    I have a couple debts that reached a 10 year mark then were sold and put back on my credit by another agency I live in wv is this legal or can I make them remove it if so how

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

      I assume these are collection accounts? It sounds like they should not be on your credit report at this point. Collection accounts may only be reported for seven years +180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. The fact that this debt was sold to a new collection agencies should not extend that time period. I suggest you dispute these with the credit reporting agencies and let them know that they are too old. If they do not remove them, then you will either need to get the CFPB involved or talk with a consumer law attorney. More here: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Genell

    I consigned for my son a student loan
    He is now working and refuses to take it over
    Is there a way to get it transferred to his name

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

      Genell —
      We wish we could tell you there were. Co-signing means agreeing to take full responsibility for the loan in the event that the primary borrower doesn’t pay as agreed. And unfortunately, student loans are among the hardest loans to find relief from. (They are difficult, if not impossible, to discharge even in bankruptcy.) Your best bet is to somehow find a way to persuade your son to pay.

  • Genell

    I consigned for my sons student loans
    Can I get them transferred to him now since he’s wirking and refusing to pay them

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

      If he is refusing to pay them it is very doubtful you will be able to get released as a cosigner. You can find out what the procedure is to release a cosigner but I am doubtful it can be done without him agreeing. The lender will not want to let go of a borrower who is paying! You’re in a very tough spot. If you don’t pay, it can devastate your credit and the lender may sue. I don’t have a simple solution for you unfortunately.

  • Rachel O’Dea

    This is about credit debt, all of my collections accounts are medical bills, there are no agreements signed etc. Is all of this info the same for medical collection accounts? Is there anything different about them?

  • James Reid

    I tried contacting a debt collector about a 4 year old debt in MD. They have never answered. If I dispute the debt on my credit report, will that reset the 3 years? If the debt collector responds, will that reset the 3 years?

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