Debt Collection Statute of Limitations for All 50 States
Are you being contacted about a debt you think may be past the debt collection statute of limitations? Although you cannot be sued for debts that are past the limitations period, you can still receive harassing calls and unwanted letters from collectors as unpaid debts never disappear.Your Fair Debt rights may be different based on how old the debt is, and tactics used to collect old debts may violate the law.
Statute of Limitations (SoL) listed by state and type of debt including Virgin Islands and Ontario with state civil code references.
Statute of Limitations apply to open ended contracts such as credit cards and store credit accounts and contracts for sale under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Also covered under most State’s statutes of limitation are oral agreements, promissory notes, written contracts, loans, mortgages and car payments as well as foreign and domestic judgments. Under the right circumstances the statue of limitations can be renewed for just about any type of debt.
Click on your State link to see the statute of limitations.
If after reading your state’s SOL you have any questions about your state’s complex Statute of Limitations laws, ask a Debt Help Lawyer for a FREE* consultation and get solutions for your concerns. The case review is FREE and a debt help lawyer may be available to represent you at little or no cost. Call toll free 888-595-9111 or click here.
In-depth explanation each section of the The fair debt collection practices act
IMPORTANT NOTE: The statutes listed here are current as of June, 2005 however they are subject to change so be sure to check your state’s civil code to verify all information.
I’m often asked how to determine which State’s statute of limitations to use in any given situation. Section 811 of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act; “Legal actions by debt collectors” answers this question.
In order to obtain court judgments on most debts, collectors must sue in the judicial district where the consumer resides. However, there are exceptions:
Child support orders are recognized and enforced in every state. If you have child support judgment from NY and move to Florida, the NY statutes of limitation apply.
Signed contracts (not revolving credit accounts); collectors can seek a judgment in the state where the contract was signed. Once they have a judgment collectors or creditors can use either the state where it was granted or have the judgment domesticated to the state where you reside, depending on which state offers the longest SoL.
Example: You live in New Jersey and a debt collector is attempting to collect on a past due credit card bill. The collector must obey the NJ statute of limitations for open ended credit contracts which is 4 years. On the other hand, if you live in NJ but signed a contract to have body work done on a vehicle in Pennsylvania, then a collector can sue for a judgment in PA (good for 20 years).
Under written credit contracts such as car loans, mortgages, and so forth, creditors retain the right to decide which state to sue in, so always expect creditors to choose the state with the longest statute of limitations and the greatest amount of award!
WARNING! A judgment, regardless of which state ordered it, can be enforced in any other state.
See FDCPA: Legal actions by debt collectors
In-depth explanation of the Statute of Limitations
Debt and Credit Terms
Breach of Sale:
To break a contract; to not honor an agreement
Contract Under Seal:
Any written instrument with a raised or wafered (wax) seal or with the words “contract under seal”, “under seal”, “sealed” or similar words written in the text.
Granted to the plaintiff due to the defendant’s failure to act (usually the defendant fails to appear in court)
Used when products or services are lacking in some way or are likely to fail or become defective or have already failed.
A simple promise by one party to pay money to another party.
An order one person (the drawer) to pay another person (the drawee), demanding that the drawee pay money to a third person (the payee).
Instrument of credit where the creditor (lender) can call in the note (demand payment) at any time. Can be written or unwritten.
Judgment awarded by a court in state where the debtor resides.
Judgment awarded by a court from any state other than the state where the debtor resides.
The final decision or disposition of a court in a legal proceeding that defines how much money is awarded, to whom and any appeal rights.
Having insufficient assets to satisfy a money judgment. However a more accurate term is execution-proof because the collector was awarded a judgment but still has to collect the money (the court does not collect money) and if the debtor has no money then the judgment is useless.
To secure payment for labor or materials supplied in improving, repairing, or maintaining real property. (Usually difficult to obtain)
Note payable at Definite Time:
Promise by one party to pay money to another party no earlier than at some specified future date.
Open Accounts (open-ended credit):
Line of credit that may be used over and over again, including credit cards, overdraft credit accounts, and home equity lines of credit, store revolving accounts and other similar credit accounts.
An unwritten agreement between two or more parties. Often confused with verbal contract , informal contract, and verbal contract which are legally different from an oral contract.
Claims on real property, typically on the estate of the deceased.
An unconditional promise in writing to pay a person a sum of money.
Sale of goods under the Uniform Commercial Code:
Transactions for the sale (and leasing) of goods is governed mainly by sales laws of each state. Every state, with the exception of Louisiana, has adopted, Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) as the main body of law regulating transactions in goods. Goods are defined as all things movable and identified to the contract of the sale. It does not include secured transactions, leases, money exchanged as the price, or real property (land and property permanently attached to a piece of land). To be identified to the contract a good must be existing and one of the objects that is or will be exchanged. Transactions between merchants and consumers and those solely between merchants are regulated by Part Two. All transactions that are for more that $500 must be in writing.
Simple or Implied Contract:
Contract that is not under seal and can be expressed or implied, and oral or written.
The term “toll”, “tolled”, and “tolling” are used in almost all statute of limitations rules and it means to “stop the running of a statutory period for a certain period of time”.
An instrument of money was rejected i.e. non-sufficient funds (NSF), returned check, dishonored check or draft, bounced check.
Uniform Commercial Code (UCC):
Law that governs the sale of goods and credit transactions separate from the civil and criminal laws. Covers the sale and distribution of goods, negotiable instruments, and the financing of credit transactions on the security of the goods sold.
Uniform Consumer Credit Code:
Law to protect consumers obtaining credit to finance their transactions; to ensure that adequate credit is provided, and to govern the credit industry in general. Seven states and Guam have adopted the code.