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From the Experts at

Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

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Statute of Limitations - What's the limit in my state?

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As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains on its site, “a statute of limitations is the limited period of time creditors or debt collectors have to file a lawsuit to recover a debt.” These periods vary according to state laws and your type of debtthe CFPB notes. If you’re sued for a debt and the debt is too old, you may have grounds for defense.

However, if you are being sued, we recommend speaking with an attorney who can offer their expertise, especially if you have reason to believe the statute of limitations, or SOL, has expired. “Even if the statute of limitations has expired, a court may still award a judgment against you if you don’t show up and raise the statute of limitations as your defense,” the CFPB warns. The onus is on the consumer to note that the statute of limitations has passed.

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    In this article, we’ll cover the basics you need to know about debt collections with regards to their statute of limitations by state.

     What Is a Statute of Limitations on a Debt?

    As we mentioned above, every state has a statute of limitations that limits how long a creditor or debt collector can successfully collect a debt. In California, for instance, the statute of limitations varies by the type of lawsuit.

    A breach of a written contract is given four years from the date the contract was broken, while property damage allows three years from the date the damage occurred.

    Typically, the statute of limitations starts when you miss your first payment with the original creditor. It does not start when the account was placed for collection. If a debt collector tried to sue you after this time period has expired, you could raise the SOL as a defense against the lawsuit.

    Many consumers confuse the length of time that debts can appear on their credit reports with the debt collection statute of limitations. However, these are often two different time periods. If you have debts that have been charged off and/or are in collections, it’s critical that you get your credit reports to find out what is being reported.  (You can view two of your credit scores for free on

    Not only will this give you helpful information about the dates you fell behind, but it may also alert you to collection accounts or even judgments you did not know existed.

    Here are two things you can do:

    • Get your free annual credit reports from to see the specific information that is reported.
    • Find out whether these items are affecting your credit by checking your credit scores.

    Use the statute of limitations map provided below as a guideline and be sure to read the important tips below. Simply click on your state for more information.

    State Updated Statute Open/Unwritten Written Contracts

    Note: Credit card accounts are generally considered open accounts while installment accounts — like an auto loan — are often considered a written contract. But not always. See the important note below.

    Understanding the State Statute of Limitations

    This chart offers general guidelines for state statutes of limitations, but please keep in mind that it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. For example, the vast majority of state laws do not spell out the statute of limitations specifically for credit card debtsSometimes those fall under written contracts, and other times they fall under open accounts. Or sometimes they can fall under either category, depending on the specifics of the situation.

    If you have questions about the statute of limitations for your debt, we recommend you contact your state attorney general’s office, or even better, a consumer law attorney in your area. The latter is especially critical if you are being sued for payment.

    What is the Credit Reporting Time Limit?

    According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit reporting time limit is the federal law that states how long negative items and information can stay on your credit report. Typically, this time limit is seven years. Delinquency information can be reported seven years from the first date of delinquency. However, charge-offs can be reported for seven years plus an additional 180 days from the initial date that the debt was reported to the credit bureau.

    Student Loan Defaults

    Many people have the immense burden of student loans on our shoulders and with them comes the many repayment and consolidation offers with lengthy terms. If you default on your student loan payments, then you may experience wage garnishment, or the government could withhold your federal tax returns.

    The Statute of Limitations on student loan debt varies from state to state and can fall sometime between the timeframe of three years and sometimes as many as ten years.

    Do I Have to do Anything?

    When the time for credit reporting has expired, the negative items and outdated information will most likely drop from your credit file automatically. You do not have to contact any of the credit bureaus for this to be accomplished.

    If you notice that there is an error, and something still seems wrong with your credit report, make sure you gather the evidence you need to prove the mistake and contact the credit bureaus to sort it out.

    What About My Obligation to Pay?

    A common misconception about the statute of limitations and debt is that once the time is up, you no longer owe the debt. However, this is not entirely true. The only thing that has lapsed is the reporting timeframe. It is still considered a legitimate debt that collectors can still seek payment on by calling or sending letters.

    The statute of limitations, on the other hand, will limit the amount of time that the collector has to take legal action against you such as suing you for the debt that is owed.

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      • 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.

              • frustrated

                He was arrested for failure to appear not for not paying a debt. When you get a notice to appear in court and you don’t that then becomes a crime and you can get arrested. If he would have showed up in court he would not have been arrested.

              • Brenda Hixenbaugh

                So was the car resold? If so the amount they sold it for should have went towards what was owed. I had a vehicle repo ed and they sold the car for more than what was owed. The car company sent a check for the amount over what was owed them.

        • 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.

          • Paula Wilson Mullen

            I don’t think a private company can touch your disability payments, they can put a lien against your home, or take your automobile if it’s paid for. If you have no assets other then your SSD, there really isn’t much they can do. And eventually it will fall off your credit report. You don’t mention what state you live in, but isn’t this just over or right at the statutes of limitations? You need to find out, because if it is you can use that to your advantage in court. So you need to find out before you go to court. Also don’t openly admit the debt is yours, sometimes that starts the clock at the beginning.

          • Erin O’Connor

            Wrong. A judgment is a judgement irrelevant of the judicial venue it took to obtain it. A judgement can be sent to collections, garnish wages and various other collection activity.

          • TheSouthernNationalist

            Just make sure you fill out the “exemption form” that the court will send you so they cant take your stuff.
            Where I live we have a maximum amount of $35,000 of property and goods that can be claimed exempt from the collector.

        • 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!

        • 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.

            • dd

              the hospital did take my state refund for a hospital bill and said they would continue until the debt is paid. VA will and continue to take a certain percent of federal refund

              • Gerri Detweiler

                Was this a VA hospital? Often federal agencies can collect from tax refunds whereas private creditors cannot.

        • 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.

        • John Doe

          “And I know that nobody can just “take” money from my bank …”

          They can if they got a judgment against you.

        • Val

          SS is your money,not the government, all they do is mismanage it. you pay into it, as does your employer. government does not pay into the fund. however, if you owe the government, for back taxes, they can and will take the money. They over paid me $7000 and held back my first check after going back on disability. without notification of course. Now I repay 136 a month. I hope that saves my NY refund from being garnished.

        • Larry Hatlestad

          After I became disabled and started getting SSD I had to go to small claims court , the judge told my creditors that I am on SSD so you can’t get blood out of a turnip and the quit calling me , the only ones that can take money out of your checking account is city , state or federal government that you owe money too.

        • DM

          Did you tell this other company when they contacted you that you owed the debt? Is this a credit card? If you agreed you owed the debt you’re screwed even though it’s beyond the statute of limitations. Given it’s been over 5 years you could have said you didn’t owe any money. Especially since the original company didn’t accept your offer. They couldn’t do anything further at that point. Including contacting or harassing you anymore.

          Since you are on SSD they can’t attach those wages or even touch your bank account if they get a win in court. As most people have said, unless it’s the government, your SSD wages are safe.

        • dikkbump

          I had the same thing happen. I filed chapter 7. Peace.

        • jdb

          Can’t take your social security due to government issued it to you which means no garnishment.

          • Credit Experts

            JDB —
            In some cases Social Security Disability Income may be garnished, though SSI (Supplemental Security Income) cannot be.

        • Gloria Schwenderlauf

          If you are in California, they most certainly can attach you SSD funds and in some cases your bank account, especially if an attorney is involved. But if you go into court with proof that after paying all monthly bills you only have a certain amount and this would cause a hardship, they may dismiss it. Good luck!!

        • LadyZR33

          Your correct, SSDI or SSI is exempt from creditors. Only exception is money owed to the Federal Gov’t for back taxes, student loans plus child support obligations. If your bank account(s) don’t reflect add’l deposits (cash or other check deposits) other than SSDI or SSI you’ll be okay otherwise it would be an illegal garnishment or levy. I’m shocked they’ve gone this far. They may not know your on SSDI or do but don’t believe it. Witnessing experiences of others in your situation, you’ll be okay. Wishing you all the best.

        • Mrs. Bush

          Hi Karen,
          Though this is coming MUCH LATER for an answer, (I’m just finding this page myself). Because you are or were disabled, they cannot garnish your disability check. I went through the same issue over some hospital bills that I’m dishing out what I can for now, however, the law firm was told by the judge that there was nothing they could do to me once he reviewed about 3 months of my direct deposits of my disability pay and child support at that time. Hope you can pass this on to someone else if you no longer have a need for this message. Take care!

        • Mart

          Dear Karen: I live in IL and I am sorry to hear about your disability. In many cases I have found that Companies will purchase the debt and then add interest to the amount each month which compounds. Here is
          a way to stop the court action. When you go before the Judge; this is what I recommend that you say. The Attorney that is representing the collection company will be there before the Judge. Please don’t be nervous just look straight at the Judge and say: ” Your honor I don’t recall ever signing for this loan or credit card!”. (Please insert the correct debt!) I would like to see the original document with my signature on it right now. They will try and provide a copy. You need to see the original!! Sometimes they will produce a sworn affidavit from their accountant who claims to have seen the document. They are lieing!
          They usually purchase these from banks and the banks have stored them in buildings and can’t locate them. It is your right to view the original. Stand your ground and don’t let the Judge talk you into going to the side and work out a payment plan! Smile be pleasant…. The judge
          will adjourn to a later date 30 to 60 days and you will have to come back. At that time he will ask to see the document which the Attorney
          will regretfully inform him its not available. Now this debt will stay on your credit report untill the statue of limitations ends. Good luck and believe that this works. Just do

        • Karen Moore

          Most states have laws as to were you are offered to pay debt but it was refused. Debt played in full under the for new company it doesn’t matter. Take copies of were original company refused debt settlement. Also courts can’t garnish social security disability or retirement money.

        • unstabel

          That happened to me and they put a lean on my house

        • sHAWN

          You are wrong. Once they have the judgment, they can and will file garnishment against your bank account. I advise to open a new account and have your funds direct deposited into it, so the company does not know what bank you use.

        • Tex1967

          As long as you can prove that you made every effort to pay your debt, then the refusal by the old company is on them. That’s the law, as far as I’ve always known it.

          When a company refuses to work with you AND REFUSES ANY PAYMENT, then they in effect release you from your obligation to continue to try to effect a payment plan.

          It’s ridiculous that the new company is wasting their time and money to collect a small debt, especially if they already know your side of the story.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            I’m not aware of any federal law that requires them to accept any amount you are willing to pay.

            • Tex1967

              Perhaps not so much the “law” as the practice of the law. Judges have always seemed to rule based on Good Will attempts and when a company fails to make an effort, in cases such as the one described, to work with someone who is making their best effort based on circumstances that are through no fault of their own. In this case, not only did the company refuse any payment, but they refused to apparently discuss the issue with the individual who made every effort to meet her obligations before, during and after becoming disabled. Federal judges? Can’t say, but that’s what I’ve seen happen in every state where I’ve lived with whatever level of judges were involved. Now I have heard lawyers in various states state (with regards to financially challenged clients) that as long as their client is making ANY EFFORT to pay, then the client has met their obligation under the law to pay to the best of their ability when they become injured, hospitalized, disabled, etc. Again, not talking about people who ran up their credit cards and don’t want to pay. So, perhaps there are some states with laws set up to protect people from harassment, foreclosure, etc. when they hit hard times. The company might not have to accept the money, but judges typically (in my observations over the years) don’t put judgements on people who, through no fault of their own, have no means to pay at the level they previously paid. AND, company acceptance of any payment does not constitute an agreement, but refusal can be interpreted (by snakey lawyers) as the discontinuation of further business dealings. That company could have taken her payment and CONTINUED to bill her AND could have placed a lien on her, etc., however, they refused payment and it sounds like that was the end of their communication with the lady.

      • 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.

          • 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.

      • 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.

          • 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!!!!

            • Daedalus

              No you dont. Not if you are willing to sit in jail over it as I was you don’t. AND they pay you a certain amount towards that debt per day you sit there. At least they did when that happened to me. Now of course I used all that money towards my comissary (yeah I had the “cool” cell to hang around Mwhahahaha) So I didn’t ever pay the debt actually. And once this company reached the statute of lims, they fell off the report. In fact I had a perfect credit score once out of jail/updated Mwhahahaha NOTE!!!!! (here it’s whatever the judge enters on the judges sheet I was told, that the amount per day is whatever judge enters, by a “jailhouse attorney” so buyer beware, caveat emptor and all that jazzz, I’m not sure about the legality of that, or IF it holds true for everyone etc…. Not an attorney here)

            • Steve

              Pensions CAN and WILL be garnished for alimony. The judgment is sent to DFAS (Defense Accounting) and the money is deducted before you get the remainder deposited to your account. Not sure where all these closet lawyers are getting their advice??

          • fed1985

            Not true.

          • me

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

            • 1uniquemonique

              SS can also be garnished for current child support and ALIMONY!!! I know because I work for SS and have witnessed a few garnishments for alimony.

              • Deborah Fugate-Kania

                They do not take a cent out of my exson-in-laws SS checks. It’s even detailed on the SS website how child support is paid. It’s a separate account and however many children a SS payee has gets a share of that amount. Nothing comes out of a person’s actual check.

              • 1uniquemonique

                If there is an actual court garnishment, that recipient’s check is reduced by the amout of the garnishment. I believe you are confused with auxiliary child benefits. A garnishment must be ordered by the court. So tell your daughter to have the court or your state child support bureau to send SSA the proper documents and his check will be reduced. Even if that child is receiving child benefits. Now, if your ex-son in law is getting SSI (Supplemental Security Income), the check CAN NOT be garnished.

            • Deborah Fugate-Kania

              Child support is not taken out of ones SSD check. It comes from a separate pot that is divided between however many children you have. I think that’s wrong. My exson-in-law has never paid a cent of child support out of his own pocket. Tax payers such as myself pay his child support. One child by another woman is owed years of back support. IRS tried taking my daughters refund to put towards the loads back child support amount. She had to file Injured spouse forms to get her refund which was her education money.

              • Kathy Clow

                Take heart. When he retires, his SSDI turns into SS. It then is garnished. I worked for a Medicaid program, and I can’t tell how angry the person who owed child support was when it started coming out. Add to that, that because Medicaid and Food Stamps use gross income and not net, that means that the person may not qualify for those programs. My ex owes me about $60,000, but I am kind and don’t have half his check garnished. The kids and I survived, and he has a miserable life in Section 8 Housing, COPD, and no friends. I call it a God Gotcha!

          • 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.

            • Bj James

              Right. I had an account that received a small government pension, garnished. Even though my government pension can’t be taken, once it is deposited into my checking account it can be garnished unless I pay court fees and take the debtor to court to prove the money is exempt. Once deposited it’s $ and up for grabes.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                Mr James – Not necessarily. Have you filed a complaint with the CFPB?

          • Eddie Depp

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

            • 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

              • BJ

                Student loans can be deducted for SSDI or SSI in Missouri. But, you can apply to have the student loan vanquished.

              • 1Caryn

                When you say retirement – do you mean regular social security benefits?

              • Credit Experts

                If by “regular” benefits, you mean retirement benefits (which can be claimed as early as age 62) as opposed to disability, survivors’, etc. benefits also paid by Social Security).

              • 1Caryn

                Yes, that’s what I mean by regular.

            • Lore Earll

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

              • Gerri Detweiler

                There seems to be a lot of back and forth on this topic. These two articles may be helpful:

                My Social Security Income Is Being Zapped for Student Loans! and Can My Bank Take My Social Security Benefits to Pay My Credit Card Bill?

              • sam

                I had my SSDI garnished for student loans…I dont have to research, or do I?

              • Gerri Detweiler
              • Tom

                Sam you can have your student loan forgiven if you are disabled. Apply for permeant waiver. Your Doctor will have to fill out a form that they send to you, then if you have no earned income “wages” for 3 years they will forgive it all.

              • Aletha Walker

                Yes this is so true. I know because I became disabled after I went to school and had some student loans and it was all forgiven.

              • daugherty

                student loans are gov. loans so the gov can garnish ssdi

              • JoC

                If you have a Disability, have the Doctor fill out paperwork to get your Student Loans Forgiven. I became very sick and was not going to be able to work, I contacted Student Loans, got the disability paperwork, my Doctor filled it out and the loans were forgiven.

              • Kevin R Douglas

                Have you tried having your FEDERAL student loans discharged if you are receiving SSDI? I have severe Bipolar Disorder and my psychiatrist stated that I would be unable to maintain employment for any length of time. I started by contacting my Federal Student Loan provider (in my case Tel-Net) and went through their discharge process. It took six months for everything to go through. The biggest drawback is that you can’t exceed a maximum earned income per year.

              • Carol

                The Federal Discharge works, contact them or go online to apply, upon getting your documents from SS fill out the application with your supportilng documents and they will notify you over time if it has been approved or disapproved, it worked for my son and other people that I know who did this, so get on the ball.

              • Sharon McGuire

                They can do that and for Taxes but other then that they can not touch your money.

              • dan

                They can garnish ssd for student loans what kills me you borrow 2000 and only get 1000 of it and have to pay back 4000 and since one is on welfare they are suposed to defer it and don’t i said oh well they take 50 and give me 200 in food stamps oh well

            • drfoy

              The only way out of student loan debt is death.

              • mike

                I was taken to court for a debt that was past the statute of limitations in my state. The delivery of the notice was dropped off on my front porch. I found it as the court date passed and the next thing I got was a letter saying I had a judgement for what I wasn’t sure. So without confirmation of my being made aware of a court date I was sued for what I can only guess was a 12 year old debt or perhaps a debt falsely assigned to me. Whatever it was mine or not within the sol or not my court date passed and now I have a lien on my house and that keeps me from most any decent borrowing options. These collectors have legitimate people to go after but some do things that are illegal for a 5k lien. It is not worth getting a lawyer but it is still something. I may eventually pay this but I still have no idea what it was for.
                Apparently there is nothing stopping criminals from making false claims and going to court without properly notifying defendants of the court date. It is ridiculous.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                You may be able to request to have the judgment vacated. Have you checked into that through the court?

              • mike

                No I have not. Thank you for the suggestion. I don’t know how the court date proceeded without some sort of proof of my notification and that alone should be a reason to dispute this whether it is a legit debt or not. I’m just guessing at what this was supposedly for because I was not presented with any details on that.

              • Gerri Detweiler

                This recent article may also be of interest: 2 of America’s Largest Debt Collectors Will Refund $60 Million to Consumers
                . They allegedly sued on time-barred debts and some consumers will be getting refunds – and getting those off their credit reports. I know it’s not easy but you may not want to give up without exploring all your options!

              • mike

                Thank you. In the past I felt somewhat defeated but perhaps there is hope.

            • Daedalus

              That’s because it’s a debt owed to the government, like a tax debt.

            • Mary Hannon

              Not True, If you are disabled I am not sure what you have to do but your student loans are forgiven. Check into it.

            • Fred Edwards

              unless it is ssi

          • John Doe

            “Government paid income such as social security cannot be garnished by anyone.”

            That’s what I thought.
            It turns out the Feds can garnish your social security over student loans.

            • ******************

              Student Loans can be garnished from SSDI because they are Federal government loans to you for school and your SSDI check comes from the Federal government. Income tax due can not be garnished from SSDI because that money goes to the IRS which is a different entity.

            • Nick

              SSDI can be garnished but no more than $250 per check by a federal agency for unpaid balances due. I am currently being garnished by the Dept of Treasury for an advancement while working for the DOD. I am not sure about VA disability.

              • Bonita Jackson Butler

                Not true. The amount is 15 percent of the check.

            • Fedgirl

              Not true anymore. I work for SSA..
              See it everyday now. All federal debt can now be garnished. Research the TOP program which stands for TREASURY OFFSET PROGRAM…… government databases are now linked. Owe one, owe them all….

          • Jeff Dimov

            Except the IRS

          • athlete21ed

            this is not a true statement. if your protected funds are in an account where anything (even a transfer from another checking or savings account) is put in that account other than the protected funds the collection agency has the right to levy your bank account…that’s assuming they have the ability and the legal right to levy your account to begin with. I am a corporate trainer with a large debt collection agency and that is a common misconception.

          • Debbie

            But it they get a slimy attorney, they find ways to get it if you aren’t careful. Once its out of your account, its almost impossible to get it back. They laws are very gray in this issue.

      • 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.

      • 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.

          • 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

        • 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.

      • 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?

      • 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.

      • 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

      • 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?

      • 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

        • 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 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.

        • Jill

          If the person with the Judgment ever wants to buy a house or take out a student loan they will have to pay it… I am a mortgage lender and we have people pay them off all the time.. So stay hopeful! They could show up one day wanting to pay it..

          • Daedalus

            Not true. States ALL fifty of them, have statutes of limitations as seen above, a debt ANY debt is uncollectible if not collected on. VA loans are also not subject to that, ut oh…

          • Bug

            Not true Jill. It depends on the amount and the circumstances. My mortgage lender is going to give me a loan for a judgement against me for a 900.00 bill that I refuse to pay because of medical misdiagnosis. It just depends on the situation.

      • 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

        • 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?

      • 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?

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • 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.

        • 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?

      • Chinwe Okorie

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

        • Gerri Detweiler

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

          • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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?

        • 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?

            • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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!

        • 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.

        • 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”

        • Gerri Detweiler


      • 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.

        • 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?

        • 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..

        • 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.

        • 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?

        • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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

      • 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?

        • 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.

            • 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

        • 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?

        • 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.

        • james fraizer

          once it is deposited in a bank, they are required to attach any funds subject to a court order. so the answer is to get SS benefits directly on a preloaded debit card. instead of a direct deposit to a bank, get your benefits deposited to a card. they will then be un-attachable.

        • Bonita Jackson Butler

          Not true. SSDI can be garnished by the federal government.

          • Credit Experts

            Right. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits cannot be garnished. But SSDI can be garnished.

          • Credit Experts

            Right. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits cannot be garnished. But SSDI can be garnished.

        • JustMyOpinion

          You are wrong, my brother loses every month 2/3 rds of his disability to his ex wife for alimony every month. So yes government moneys can be attached by others besides government.

          • Naomi

            Alimony and child support only. No other judgments (except IRS) so pay your child support and taxes and you’re good.

            • Sean Weaver

              That is correct

      • 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?

        • 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.?

        • Gerri Detweiler

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

      • Wally Gazinya

        i just moved to another part of the world

      • john

        can a collection agency get your payroll check garnished for medical bills

        • Credit Experts

          If a court judgment orders a judgment, and it goes unpaid, yes.

      • joacs

        you do not have to notify the bank about attachments for student loans from your social security check the government automatically deducted my student loan payment right from my check before it was deposited in my account

      • linda moschetto

        i have a direct tv bill that when I move my daughter took over the account and because I didn’t turn it off in my name and have her turn it on in hers they are putting it on both are credit reports and I even called the attorney general and after lengthy process it could not be removed I don’t understand how they can legally do that

      • Big D.

        My daughter’s ex-boyfriend was driving her car to work. He was using the tollway and blowing off the tolls. Because it was her car, the toll authority came back on her, for thousands of dollars. She’s in the process of getting a divorce and has two children. She gets no child support, or anything else from her ex, and has no income. She’s living in my house rent free and we provide some of the clothing and other things they need. My question is how long will these debts keep her from getting insurance on her own ? If, and when she finds another job, she will need a way to work and back. Is she going to be forced to move out of state to be able to drive again ? Can she move out of state if he has visition rights ?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I would really recommend your daughter contact Legal Aid for advice on resolving these toll bills. I don’t know what the regulations are in each state but there have been situations where these debts have ballooned and created serious long-term problems for consumers. I don’t mean to be alarmist but CNN Money has done an expose of the types of problems they can cause and it can be very serious.

          • Big D.

            They were already talking about 10,000.00 dollars. If she filed for bankruptcy would these debts go away after a while ? She has nothing but two children and some furniture. And thank you for your reply Gerri.

            • Gerri Detweiler

              I don’t know if she can eliminate these bills in bankruptcy but she may at least be able to get on a payment plan and stop the harassment. I’d suggest she at least consult with a bankruptcy attorney. They may have other ideas for her. Please let us know how that works out.

      • Judy E.

        Does the SOL apply to the state you live in or in the state the credit/bank company is in?

      • Robin Bressler

        What are collection considered? Open Accounts or Written Contracts?

      • 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?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Disputing it does not reset the statute of limitations. Making a payment or acknowledging the debt could.

      • Rope-the-dope

        Not in Florida. You can have 15 judgments or a 100 and the courts never enforce collections.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It’s so hard to say. On the one hand they may renew their efforts to try to collect from you, but on the other they may not have adequate records if you challenge the item. I believe the statute of limitations in Nevada is six years for this type of debt, though I’m not an attorney so please don’t take that is legal advice. As you say, you may open a can of worms if you try to dispute it before the statute of limitations has expired.

      • Gerri Detweiler


        Please talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. It sounds like the balance is only going to continue to grow, and judgments can be renewed indefinitely. You may need to file bankruptcy to put this behind you. If there other options, the attorney can advise you as to what those are. If you need help finding one, you can use the locator service at the website of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        If they are garnishing your wages then it sounds like you got a judgment against you at some point. Once there is a judgment against you it can be tough because the matter has now gone through the courts. Please read this article: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

      • Brianne

        In South Carolina how does my mother’s electric bill get taken care of after her death? Can they come after me even though Her name was the only on the bill?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Were you living with your mom at the time of her death? If so it may be possible they could try to collect from you as you were getting the service, but I only say “possible” as it depends on state laws. They can, however, try to collect from her estate if there is one.

      • tammy

        Its 2015 can they come after me to collect if from 2007????

      • Daedalus

        Sooo glad I found this website! Which is sort of how I ended up here, I was wondering about an old, I mean old debt collector who called my parents house, and left a message on their phone machine, from a third party collection agency that just “assumed” my debt (how they do that without your consent is beyond me) they threatened to file a lawsuit and garnish my wages. I was unaware that there is a statute of limitations in my state on the debt, AND that it’s illegal for them to contact my parents and my siblings/neighbors about it that way as well. I can’t say it enough! Sooo glad I found this website! Lots of good info here, you can bet I’ll be telling EVERYONE I know about the site. 🙂

        • Credit Experts

          Glad to know the information is helping.

          (And what the agency probably meant by “assumed” was that they purchased the old debt, probably for pennies on the dollar.)

      • disqus_X0BpJiOuLg

        Wages garnished yes, but she stated she’s on disability. Your gov’t checks can’t be garnished except in the case of child support.

      • Peggy Goldberg

        mansfield oh doesnt do that, they can just call in….and if they dont well they rule in their favor anyway, kinda of a lost cause there

      • patty

        I am being harassed by a debt collector for my son’s debt. How can I get this to stop?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Provided you aren’t dealing with a scammer, you have two options: contact a consumer law attorney who represents consumers in debt collection cases or file a complaint with the CFPB.

          • Joe

            Hello Gerri, I have a judgement against me From 2010 and I attempted to settle with the lawyer and they declined to make and reduction due to a recent inquiry to my credit report. Can you offer any advice to persuade them?

            • Gerri Detweiler

              The problem, Joe, is that with a judgment they have additional means of collection including wage garnishment and/or levying your bank account if legal in your state. So they may want to try to hold out for the full amount. On the other hand, the longer it goes unpaid the more likely they may be willing to settle. (I assume they checked your credit reports to see what else you owed and what kind of credit risk you appeared to be.) You can continue to hold out and hope none of those other actions are taken, work out a payment arrangement to satisfy it (make sure you get in writing whether interest will be charged and how much) or consult a bankruptcy attorney about whether you can and should eliminate this debt in bankruptcy.

      • Mark Myers

        When does the clock start on these statutes? Date of last payment?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Yes, usually from date of default or when the payment you missed was due which is usually close to when you made your last payment.

      • Marcia Clark

        In 2000, I bought a Computer from B B, 1st day, I couldn’t get it to come on, 2nd day, nothing, called and wanted to return it before the 14 day return policy was up and they wouldn’t let me, I have been fighting them every sense. But what I didn’t know, is that one of their employees was charging on my card, while I was at work. It was closed /cut up, with a letter in handing stating it. This was before I got ill and was still working. But they don’t want to hear that. They want their money for a computer, I never owned or was never in my name, even with the Warranty Company, when I swiped my card. The warranty Company informed me of this. They said it doesn’t make the first time, they had BB issue with them. They debit from my account 1st /last and made me over drawn. Bill Collectors harassing me , non-stop and they don’t care, that I’m ill. I made my payments, I wasn’t going to pay for something that I didn’t charge and I can prove it. They wouldn’t even send me time and dates from their company, when requested. I think they might owe me, from all their Harassing / threating and Intimidation tactics and their company letting their employee use my credit card and not reporting it. Can someone give me advice and legal help ?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          We can’t give you legal help, unfortunately–we’re not attorneys. But we can recommend a few things options.

          First, you state this happened in 2000. That’s fifteen years ago. If you’ve never paid this debt then it is almost certainly outside the statute of limitations (check here: Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State). It shouldn’t be on your credit reports and if you tell the debt collector to stop contacting you by law they must stop. Send your letter certified mail. If they contact you again, call a consumer law attorney right away. If they think you have a good case, they should be willing to represent you for free because a debt collector who breaks the law must pay their attorney fees.

          Hope this helps and works out for you!

          PS: As you mention, you can also consult a consumer law attorney to find out if you may be entitled to damages for the actions already taken. If you need help finding an attorney you can visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

      • justjim

        Does any of this apply to medical bills. I have been told that in North Carolina, if I cannot or do not ay my hospital bill they will collect from my state tax refund—–thoughts please.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          While that is possible in some states, it is my understanding they are no longer doing that in North Carolina. I encourage you to reach out to your state representative or state attorney general’s office for more information.

      • cm

        Before that can take a judgement against you they must first serve you with a summons to appear in court. I recieved on a filed an answer to the summons with the court. They cant take a judgement against you once you answer the summons in writing. In my case Im totally disabled and have no funds to repay this. I acknowledged the debt but they cant take a judgement. I also stated how I was repeatedly harrased and threatened by the above debt collector.

      • Avery A Goble

        My Disability check is garnish by court order for back child support and for payments on my bill with the Veterans Administration.

      • John Jacobson

        If the income is solely SSD it is not attachable

      • Doug

        This note is from above “Note: Credit card accounts are generally considered open accounts while installment accounts – like an auto loan – would be considered a written contract.” So my question is “what is a medical bill”? What is the limits?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I wish we could be more specific and tell you exactly but we don’t have a list of statute of limitations for medical debt in all 50 states. It will probably fall under written contracts or closed end debts but you may need to do some digging to find out how it works in your state.

      • AnnieKelleher

        does this apply to student loans?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          No. Federal student loans do not have a statute of limitations.

      • Joe LoPiccolo

        Debtor’s Prison sentences have gone the way of honest American politician’s !

      • Gerri Detweiler


        I really feel for you and wish I could advise but it’s now a matter with the courts and you need to talk with a consumer law attorney. This just isn’t something that’s going to be easy for you to solve on your own. It may actually be wise for you to consider filing for bankruptcy to put all this behind you, but that’s a call that you and an attorney need to make together. You should be able to get a free consultation with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. If you need help finding one, I’d recommend you visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Maggie – I’d suggest you consult with a consumer law / consumer bankruptcy attorney. Yours is a more complicated scenario since you are talking about a past due mortgage for a large amount. You’ll want the attorneys advice about how to get out from under that loan.

      • rhondareichel

        statute lnk for Texas says not found

        • Gerri Detweiler

          We are working on an update now. Stay tuned.

      • john

        I have had an apartment in Brooklyn with 2 roommates who bailed on me after failing to pay rent for two months. I was hit with a eviction notice and so i appeared in court to give myself time to move and not get immediate eviction. The eviction list all of us but i am the only one being hit with the judgement. I am trying to find my roommates but right now, i moved out and so, i receive mail from a bank i am not affiliated with telling me that my landlord’s lawyer wants to collect 20,000 dollars from me. the mail was just a notice and so i am wondered that after a certain time, my landlord cannot collect the debt from me? six years i believe. But what happens then? Does this still show up on my record after six years from a civil court?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I am not sure I fully understand your situation John, but if you are telling me that there is a judgment against you then you need to read the following article. Please keep in mind that even if you do locate your former roommates, that won’t affect this court judgment directly. Typically when multiple renters sign a lease they can each be held liable for the full amount. Please read: I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

      • Big Nick

        I’ve got a question for you.
        I live in Wisconsin. I voluntarily gave my auto back for repossession in 2008. Last car payment was that year. Since that time my debt collector has changed three times. About two months ago I received a letter from the third collection agency wanting a settlement. I didn’t respond. In September of 2013 I had made a verbal agreement over the phone to pay the settlement, this was with the second collection agency. I never did make a payment after this agreement either. By me making this verbal agreement over the phone does this alter my statue of limitations for collections? Which I believe is 6 years in the state of Wisconsin. Does the 6 year period start again from that verbal agreement I made in September of 2013?
        Thank you for your help.

        • Credit Experts

          We’ve researched the issue, and apparently oral agreements can be enforceable in Wisconsin. Whether it applies in your particular case, we don’t know. We would suggest contacting a consumer law attorney for help.

        • Credit Experts

          Nick —
          We researched it a bit, and it appears that oral contracts can be enforceable in Wisconsin. It may depend some on the particulars of your situation. You may want to contact a consumer-law attorney.

      • libertyfordean

        When I click the link for my state… it brings up the statute, but the link to that statute doesn’t work.

        • Kali Geldis

          Hi — We’re actually in the process of updating the map to make sure there are no dead links like you experienced. Which state are you looking for?

          • libertyfordean

            Thanks! I was looking for UT, but I just went to the State’s site and found the Statute. I was wondering though, if a creditor can no longer collect on a debt after the SOL, does that mean they can’t report it to the bureau’s either?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          An update is in progress.

      • GW

        Four years ago my son received treatment in ER. At the time I was unable to pay the balance of the deductible in full to the ER physician group so I made payments of $10 every month. The group stopped sending me statements and I assumed all was good. about two months ago I started getting these staenge letters from some sort of collection agency. I believe that the statute of limitations is up by now. And I’m not even sure if I owe a balance anyway. If there is one, it would be approximately $100. Any suggestions?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The letter you received from the collection agency should provide information about how to dispute the debt and request validation. We recommend you do so in writing. It sounds like you need more information before you can establish what you owe and whether the debt is too old.

      • Xina

        Okay I have a question. A friend of mine about 3 years ago attempted to start college. He set up classes and everything but he never went to any classes and he even talked to them about canceling them. The people then told him that he was good and he didn’t need to pay anything. Just now today we are hearing that he owes $1,900 due to late fees and never paying. He never heard any of this for those whole three years. My friend never misses his bills always pays them off his credit it really good because of it. So I was wondering if there was anyway we could do something about this because we didn’t do anything and I don’t want to see him lose $2,000 for no reason. Please help me.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Of course these kinds of situations are very messy–especially when they happen long after the fact. If he’s been contacted by a collection agency then he can dispute the debt (in writing, via certified mail) and request verification. If it’s the school contacting him, he can do the same but he’s not protected by the same federal law as he is if it’s a debt collection account. After he files the written dispute he can either try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or a consumer law attorney.

      • Debbie

        I live in Va and my husband and I owe Bank of America a total of ten thousand dollars but they have not called us or sent a bill to us in 2 and a half years. Now we are going to court on Monday July 20,2015 for the debt,Iam unemployed and my husband barely makes a thousand dollars a month, what are we expecting and will we loose? Need help.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Unless you have a valid defense against the debt (see below) the creditor will likely get a judgment against you. Once they have the judgment, what they can go after depends on what you have and state law. I would encourage you to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney right away who can answer your questions in more detail and explain your options.

          Suggested articles: Seven Ways To Defend a Debt Collection Lawsuit and I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

      • Angela Dickson-Claycamp

        I would like to know how far back they can go on this… In 2003 I had to pay 950.00 for a check written by my ex husband in 1988 all for a 12$ pizza they garnished my wages for a check that was written 15 years prior… by my ex. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

        • Credit Experts

          We’s like to help, and we sent you an email asking some additional questions.

      • Alex Jones

        For Mortgage each state does have different laws the collector has a certain amount of time some states up to a year and other between 2 or 3 years from *****date of last payment received****. This is from a bankruptcy Attorney in my state. You don’t need to go see an Attorney unless the knock comes at the door. I went to see where I stood and what I had to do if need be. The Attorney will advise you on your state laws normally the first visit is free and they will let you know if they are willing to except the case. I can’t give advice on this matter except use Google to find out what your state laws are concerning the time limit. Because after that the Bankruptcy Judge may just throw it out.depending on your state. I hopes this helps and you don’t have to answer the phone if it is a number you don’t recognize normally 800 or some weird cell number. They can leave a message on your voice mail for quick delete. *** Collateral Loans are treated different than other loans. so it all depends on your loan type*****

      • Tommy Adair

        I Live in Illinois but my Ex wife went to court in 2008 to try and get more Money and they noticed. I’d paid til my daughter was 21 instead of 18 yrs old,so they cut her off and I thought that it was over Now 2015 2 days ago I get a letter from Anderson County Courthouse sayin I owe them $142 for My Ex wife’s court case. Am I legally still Liable?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Unfortunately we can’t say one way or the other. Court fees and the like often don’t carry the same consumer protections as consumer debts. You may want to check with your state attorney general’s office.

          • Tommy Adair

            Thank You and God Bless 🙂

            • Gerri Detweiler

              You’re welcome.

      • libertyfordean

        How do I find out the difference between the SOL on reporting a debt to my credit report, and the SOL for how long they can actually collect. The article indicates they are possibly two different things?

        Also, How do I determine when the clock starts for the SOL?

        Additionally, once the SOL is reached, does the credit bureau have to drop the debt from your report? If so, how to do I get them to do this?

        I am in UT. Thanks!

        • Credit Experts

          A debt can be reported for 7 1/2 years after it was first reported late. A statute of limitations addresses how long it can be collected, not how long it can be reported. We wrote about the differences here:
          Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

          • libertyfordean

            Very helpful, thank you!

            • Credit Experts

              You’re welcome!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Susana –

        The statute of limitations for most consumer debts in California is four years. How quickly they may sue you depends on a number of factors, but there is no specific time frame that they must try to collect before can file a lawsuit. Nevertheless, this is a large amount of money and it does mean they may forward with one.

        Generally, for an unsecured debt the creditor must first take you to court and get a judgment and then pursue payment. Unless you owe a tax debt they typically cannot place a lien against your assets without getting a court judgment first.

        I would really encourage you to talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney to go over your rights and options here. The first consultation should be free so it doesn’t hurt to get a professional opinion.

      • Billy Hawkins

        In 1980 I was summon to go to court for child support payments that I didn’t know was happening, At that time my family was living with me. I was the sole supporter for my family. I went to court, My wife at the time didn’t show up for the hearing. in court I told the judge that I was supporting my kids. He then told me that I owe the state $8,ooo. I didn’t know my wife was on child support from the state of Alabama. Which I told the court, My wife was going out of town each month to take care of her mother which she told me when asked, Now the state is taking &75.00 per month out of my social security. I don’t know what else to do to make the state know that I didn’t have anything to do with her doing a double take on me and the system. But the state always maintains that its my dept.

      • Ian P

        What’s the difference between open accounts and written contracts?
        e.g. Would an outstanding cell phone bill be considered a written contract?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Unfortunately it varies by state. In some states, a credit card would fall under open accounts and in others, written contract. As for a cell phone contract, my educated guess is that it would be a written contract, but i can’t say whether that’s the case in all states.

      • Joe Joe

        I have a question. My wife had a Verizon account and we left them cause of there crappy service. When we left they said we owed them 600.00 so they set us up with auto pay to pay of the remainder. We had also gave them a payment that same day to start the process. So After that we never got any papers in the mail cause i always use paper free billing and they already had all are account info and we had been doing this for years. But then one day we get a letter from a collection agency saying we owe them 550.00. I called them and they said to call verizon. So I called them and they said they wont take it off her credit report cause they don’t do that. But at the same time its their fault for not informing us that they were gonna even do this when they really shouldn’t off since we are setup for auto payment. Any advice on what to do? I really dont see the need to pay them now since its on the credit report and it will stay there if I pay it or not. I know it might show paid in full but does that really make that big of a difference?

        • Credit Experts

          Showing as paid won’t help your score in most models. However, not paying leaves you at risk of being sued for the balance. And if you are successfully sued, you could owe the full amount plus penalties and/or interest. And a judgment is an even bigger negative on your credit report than a collection. (It can also result in your wages being garnished.)

      • Patricia Shue Hunsucker

        In 2006 we got a Nissan and by 2007 we surrender it back to the company in 2008 we got a truck that we just paid off.Can the company that we had the car with repo our Truck to pay the rest that we owe?…And we never had a judgment on us.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Unless the new truck was used as collateral for the old loan, it’s doubtful they could. This article may help: Can Debt Collectors Repossess My Car?.

      • dana thompson

        I had a mediator contact me a month ago and tell me that I was in the process of being sued over $300 debt I owed. He told me the debt was from 2002 and if I didn’t pay it I would be sued for the debt plus the court cost of $700. He told me if I missed the court date I would lose the judgment. He told me that the company would settle for two payments of $150 or an one time payment of $200. He had all my personal information and told me that this was the last attempt before it went to court. I chose to settle the debt for a one time payment of $200. Was this legal? Could I get my money back? After reading this article I’m kind of scared I made the wrong decision.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It’s hard to say for sure. The debt was probably outside the statute of limitations, and you may have been scammed. (It sounds like the things you were told were probably illegal.) But if you were, the money you paid may be gone. You can try to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state attorney general’s office.

      • Angry in utah

        I owed a credit card in 2007 (i swear it was 2006) for $500. They charged it off in oct of 2007 for $947. In march of 2009 they referred it to a law firm for collection activity on thier behalf and after “several attempts” of trying to reach me by phone i was sent a notice to appear in court in june ( to what address i dont know). Seeing how i didnt show they (law firm) stated again after attempting to reach me by phone a default judgment was placed. The law firm stated they sent me 2 different notices in sept of 2012 (again not sure to what address) and in oct and dec of 2012 i have my equifax work number report reading they inquired on my work history (or whatever i just know they had pinged it) i had been working at a job and started a new job in sept of 2013 only to get a copy of the writ of garnishment for 2900. Come to find out the address they said they sent copys to was incorrect and they had bank accounts listed for banks i never had. After finally paying this off in feb of 2014 i went two paydays garnish free only to be garnished again. After inquiring with my payroll debt i was advised this law firm is taking an additional 1400 (writ stated only 2900 and i never got anything about this $1400) i then contacted the b.b.b to file a complaint and suddenly garnishment stopped at $800 and some odd dollars. Capital one responded to my complaint and said the amount owed was paid in march of 2014 and a $35 was over paid and a refund was sent ( never recieved) im in utah and so are the lawyers, credit card company is in w.v, is this legal? Does the copy of the writ have to have a judges signature( it is a copy of what my employer has recieved) Can they legally inquire on my equifax work number without my permission? Thank you for any input if recourse is possible

        • Michael Bovee

          Of all that you shared I see the biggest issue being you were never properly served. Your issue in this regard is not a “he said/she said” matter. You appear to be able to show the address they were sending notices to is not one you have ever lived at.

          You did not contest the judgment or garnishment up to now, and that may be a problem, but I would contact an experienced debt defense attorney in Utah about this (and your other concerns). You can locate one through

          It is standard operating for debt collectors to have access to your credit reports.

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