Why should you check the Debt Collection Statute of Limitations (SOL) for your state?
When creditors push for debt payoff and its been quite some time since you’ve made a payment, or charged something to the credit card, then it is worth taking the time to see if the SOL has expired on the debt. Otherwise, you could end up being sued and paying for something you shouldn’t have to.
It happens so often, it is hard to believe, but too many people are paying debts they “legally” no longer owe. Don’t be one of them! Click here to view the SOL chart by state. Click here to view the template to send a letter to assert your SOL claim.
Sometimes it is because you might not know how to read your credit report, you forgot or didn’t keep records of the debt, payments, etc.
If you know the debt collection Statute of Limitations for your state, then you can start to research the SOL on any debt you may have.
You can check out your debt collection Statute of Limitations for your state or just learn more about checking when the SOL applies to a particular debt.
Then look up the last payment you made on the account. Having the canceled check as proof is a good idea but not required.
Next, go to the chart below for the SOL by state, and see how much time has to pass from either the last charge you made on the account or when the last payment on the debt was (whichever is last).
For instance, if you live in Alaska, oral and written contract SOL is 3 years on each. So if you last made a payment more than 3 years ago on a debt and didn’t do anything else for charges or payments on the debt since then, your debt collection Statute of Limitations has expired! You no longer owe the debt … HOWEVER …
You do have to Assert the
Debt Collection Statute of Limitations has Expired
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That doesn’t mean the debt collector can’t try to collect or the creditor can’t sue you and try to get a judgment. You need to do your due diligence if they try to collect.
If they try to collect and push collection actions against you, then you need to formally assert the debt collection Statute of Limitations to them.
You can do this by either formal letter (if they send a letter or called you) or by legal document such as a debt collection Answer with Affirmative Claims (this document is something you should ask an attorney to help you with).
Sample Debt Collection Statute of Limitations Letter
Following is a sample letter you can use to assert your claim that the Statute of Limitations on a debt has expired and you are no longer liable for payment of the debt. Please note, you should consult with an attorney in your area prior to using the letter. Remove all items in parentheses () (along with the parentheses) and replace with the appropriate text (a text file containing the letter is here):
RE: (DEBTOR NAME)
I am writing in reference to a claim you have made against (ME/US) relating to the debt formerly owed by (ME/US) to (COMPANY).
The (STATE) Statute of Limitations on this debt expired as of (DATE).
This letter is my legal right of assertion that the (STATE) Statute of Limitations has expired and the debt is no longer a collectable debt.
Caution: You may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
You must hereby cease and desist all collection actions on this account against (ME/US).
Failure to abide by the FDCPA could result in legal action against you and fines assessed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
(SIGN YOUR NAME)
(PRINT YOUR NAME)
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway … always keep a copy of any letter or document you get or send until the debt is resolved (notice I didn’t say “paid” – resolving a debt just means coming to agreement or conclusion on whether the debt is payable or not; and if payable, you have paid it.)
What happens if you get sued anyway?
You will need to respond to the Summons and Complaint (the formal documents that claim you owe the money) and include the facts which will be documentation showing the debt, the SOL, etc. in support of your claim that you do not owe the money.
Depending on where you are located, you may be able to do this by mail, but some States will require your actual appearance in Court. If this happens, I strongly recommend you hire a local attorney to help you as things get a bit tricky in Court. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can reach out to your local Bar Association or Legal Aid office to see what can be done to help you defend against this civil lawsuit.
If you don’t assert your SOL claim, then you will lose the suit and have to pay the claim to the creditor/debt collection agency. So don’t delay!
Debt Collectors don’t always tell the truth!
It is not uncommon that a collector could say your debt is current and valid because you made a prior agreement with the debt collection company.
You have to use caution for anything a debt collector tells you, so don’t be afraid to ask an attorney in your area if it is true or not.
Here is the Statute of Limitations by State for written and oral contracts. (Figures are given in years.)