Creditors and Time-Barred Debts

Many people are unaware that after a certain amount of time debt collectors can not pursue collection of an old debt. Of course this varies by State law, but the statute of limitations on pursuing a debt is generally between three to ten years. Old debts where the statute of limitations has expired are are called “time-barred debts.”

Although the statute of limitations on time-barred debts is determined on a state-by-state basis, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – a federal law, implies that debt collectors are not explicitly prohibited from trying to collect time-barred debts; as long as they do not sue you for the debt. However, if a debt collector threatens to sue you for a time-barred debt, you have the right to get the suit dismissed by letting the court know that the debt is, in fact, time-barred.

Under the Fair Debt collection Practices Act, creditors collecting their own debts (as opposed to organizations or lawyers that regularly collect debts on behalf of others) are not subjected to that federal law. However, you can prohibit debt collectors from contacting you about any debt, regardless of how old it is or even whether or not you owe it; by simply writing them a letter directing them to stop contacting you. Once a debt collector or creditor has received your letter, they are not allowed to contact you any further regarding the debt (except for the specific purpose of telling you that there will be no further contact) or to apprise you of the debt collector’s intention to take a specific action.