Attempts to Collect Debts Barred by the Statute of Limitation May Be Illegal Under the FDCPA
Another one of the collection tactics that is expressly forbidden is attempting to collect what are referred to as “time-barred” debts or those debts that are too old for collection agencies and creditors to try and sue you for in order to collect them. Every state has laws in place stating how long of a time period creditors or debt collectors have to sue you for the debt amount owing. This time period is known as the Statute of Limitations (herein SOL) and is usually between 3 to 6 years, but can be longer.
One of the first things you should consider doing is to ascertain what your state’s SOL is. Normally, your state Attorney General’s office will have this information as well as your FDCPA lawyer (if you have hired one). The bottom line is that the FDCPA rules and regulations strictly prohibit creditors, collection agencies, and collection attorneys from attempting to (or threatening to) sue you over a time-barred debt. Although that law is in place, it doesn’t mean that this won’t happen.
Where unpaid debts are concerned, you want to remember that there different aspects of the SOL. First of all, the SOL will vary based on the type of debt that you owe and the state you live in. If the allowable time period dictated by the SOL has expired, all this means is that you cannot be sued or threatened with a lawsuit by a creditor, collection agency, or collection attorney in order to collect the debt. However, just be aware of the fact that they can legally pursue collection activities in order to recover the amount you owe.
If by some chance you are sued for a time-barred debt, you need to provide evidence to the court that the SOL has indeed expired. Whatever you do, never ignore a court summons and assume that things will be taken care of. That creditor, collection agency, or collection attorney can easily obtain a default judgment against you and have your wages garnished should you not respond to that summons. So make sure you respond promptly and act responsibly where this aspect is concerned.
On a closing note, if you have not already enlisted the services of an experienced FDCPA attorney, you should consider doing so, especially if you feel the above is true. Please feel to contact us for further information and to answer any questions you may have regarding this matter.
For over 25 years, Jonathan Ginsberg has represented honest, hardworking men and women facing financial troubles.
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