How Long Can Debt Collectors Try to Collect an Old Debt?
You may have just received a call from a debt collector, such as ERC, requesting you to make payments for a debt you hardly remember. Or maybe you recently discovered that a debt collection agency had sued you for a debt you took ten years ago.
That left you wondering: How long can debt collectors try to collect an old debt? Most states allow debt collectors to collect payments 4 to 6 years from when the debt was issued. A debt collector is prohibited by law to collect or sue for a debt past this age, with a few exceptions.
So, if a collection agency contacts or sues you for an old debt, you can use the debt's age as a defense. With the help of DoNotPay, you can send the collectors a demand letter to cut off any communication with you.
Alternatively, DoNotPay can help you file a complaint against the collector for violating your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Well, there's no definite answer to the question of how long a debt collector can try to collect an old debt. Each state has its time limit for when a debt collector can file a lawsuit against the debtor, also called the statute of limitations—most limitations periods range between 3 and 6 years.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is the maximum time a debt collection agency or creditor is legally permitted to collect money from a debtor. Every state has its statute of limitations. Most fall between 3 and 6 years. Some may go up to 20 years, depending on the type of debt.
The table below shows the statute of limitations per state depending on the type of debt.
|Open-Ended Accounts||Oral Agreements||Promissory Notes||Written Contracts|
How Statute of Limitations Vary Per State
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), statutes of limitations vary per state based on four conditions:
- The type of debt
- The state law listed in the debt agreement
- Your agreement with the creditor
- Moving states
Once the statute of limitation expires, a creditor or agency can no longer take you to court. However, collectors still attempt to collect old debts past the limitations period in some states.
What Should You Do if a Debt Collector Sues You for an Old Debt?
A debt collector violates the FDCPA when they sue or threaten to sue you for a debt whose statute of limitations has expired.
So when a collector sues you, file a response to the lawsuit in court. You will then have the chance to defend your case using the age of the debt. This could lead to dissolving your case altogether.
On the other hand, if the debt collectors threaten to sue for an old debt, you can issue them a dispute letter to remove the debt. Even though you still have to pay barred debts, the law protects you from harassment and threats by debt collectors.
Sample letters from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) can help you know how to respond to debt collectors or creditors trying to collect old debts. They will assist you in obtaining information such as determining the debt's age.
You'll also learn to set limits or cut off communications with the collectors. It's advisable to keep all the copies of these letters for future reference.
If the debt collection agency fails to respond appropriately to your dispute letter, you can proceed to sue for Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) violations.
What If You Can't Stop the Debt Collectors On Your Own?
The statute of limitations is not just a defense mechanism for not paying old debts for most states. It prevents debt collectors and creditors from filing lawsuits and other legal paperwork to collect a barred debt.
Even though the law prohibits debt collection agencies from suing or contacting you for an old debt, some still do. Trying to stop communication with them on your own can prove futile. That may lead to more tension and unnecessary pressure. It gets worse if the collectors harass you into clearing the debt.
Fortunately, there's an alternative solution. DoNotPay, a fast, simple, and reliable online platform, will solve all your debt collection issues.
How Can DoNotPay Help if a Collector Contacts or Sue You for an Old Debt?
DoNotPay's "Debt Collection" product will issue a letter to the debt creditors or collectors demanding that they cut off any communication with you. If you wish to sue the collectors for violating your consumer rights, DoNotPay will file a complaint to the CFPB.
Here's how it works:
- Search "debt collection" on DoNotPay.
- Answer a series of questions about the debt collectors, including when you were contacted and how you were contacted, so we can determine if they have violated any debt collection laws.
- Decide which course of action you want to take based on our guidance, such as filing a debt verification request, demanding for the collectors to stop contacting you, or reporting them to the CFPB.
And that's it! Once you choose the course of action you want to take, DoNotPay will handle the rest. We'll deliver your request directly to the debt collectors via first-class mail or file your complaint automatically with the CFPB so that they're no longer able to use unfair debt collection practices.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay is in your corner when it comes to stopping debt collectors. With our app, you can:
- Deal with debt collectors and negotiate with them.
- Stop debt collectors from taking your stimulus check.
Whether it’s an old student loan, a housing or car loan, a loan for your medical bills, or any other type of loan, rest assured working with DoNotPay will be fast, easy, and successful when it comes to stopping debt collectors.
Besides handling all your debt collection-related problems, DoNotPay can also:
- Cancel subscriptions.
- Write financial aid appeal letters.
- Pay bills.
- Increase your credit limit.
- Find your missing money.
- Clean your credit report.
The law prohibits a debt collector from collecting or suing for a debt past the statute of limitations. So, if a creditor or collector tries to do so, DoNotPay can help you cut off any communication or sue them for violating debt collection laws. Get started today!