Can You Be Sued in a Court of Law after the Statute of Limitation Has Expired?

While technically you can be sued for a debt even though the statute of limitation has expired, the collection agency will not be able to win the lawsuit in case you can provide proof that the statute of limitation has expired on your debt. This means that once the statute of limitation is over the collection agency cannot take a judgment to take action and force you to pay such as get your wages garnished. The time for the statute of limitation a set according to the state laws and is typically between 3 to 6 years but can be as high as 15 years. The statute of limitations longest for the documents that have been notarized and the shortest for actions on open or revolving accounts such as credit card debts.

The period for the statute of limitation is measured from the date that the last activity occurred on the account. There are certain actions that can reset the clock on the statute of limitations such as promising to a creditor of the collection agency, making a payment on the account, using the account and reaching an agreement to pay the account with the collection agency.

The statute of limitations is suspended if the consumer leaves the state or is sent for imprisonment.

While the statute of limitation prevents the collection agency of the creditor to take a judgment against the consumer in a court of law it does not prevent either of them to continue to make collection efforts to recover the debt. It simply prevents them from taking any legal action such as filing a lawsuit or garnish your wages.

It is commonly believed that once the statute of limitation is over you probably don’t want to settle a debt. If you do choose to settle a debt beyond the statute of limitation the collection agency and the creditor is more likely to agree to delete the account completely from your credit report because it knows that it cannot sue you for the debt.

It is probably true that most of the times collection agencies do not sue their consumers for recovery. They might however sue in cases when they feel that the consumer has the ability to pay but is not willing to.

A collection agency or a creditor can check the payment ability of a consumer by reviewing his finances, employment record and having a look at the credit file of the person.

Consumers are forewarned is that they should not agree with the collector even on the phone or send even a dollar because the statute of limitations will start all over again.

Should You Settle a Debt Collection Account Or Pay in Full

Once the collection account has been reported on your credit file it may not necessarily cause much improvement in your credit score if you pay the account in full rather than settle it. If it is not possible for you to get the account removed completely from your credit report it might not make a great deal of sense to pay the account in full when you can settle it instead. Settling an account has advantages that it prevents the resale of your debts to another collection agency, prevents the lawsuit being filed against you and cause further damage to your credit score and credit report.

Whether or not you can settle a debt with a collection agency will also depend upon the terms and conditions of the original creditor. In most scenarios when setting a debt the collection agency will act as middlemen. When flying and suckling you should try to pay as less as possible. It is better to save $.50 on the dollar and close a couple of points on your credit score during a settlement than trying to pay in full because the two will not be very much different as far as the influence on your credit score goes.

A statement from a spokesman from fair Isaac Corporation explains “as far as the FICO credit risk score goes, the paid in full status is going to have little, if any, effect on the person’s score”. So it is basically the collection and the charge of status of the account that is hurting the credit score.

Overview of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The debt collection agencies are not exactly known for practicing honest and fair means of collecting debt from cost consumers. The reason why they rely on underhanded tactics is that many times they actually do get away with it. It could be because of consumers were not aware of their rights or the laws dictating how a collector can and how they cannot collect a debt from consumer. The debt collection agencies are supposed to work under the guidelines and restrictions of a federal law known as the fair debt collection practices act (FDCPA).

The FDCPA governs the actions of parties acting as debt collectors for personal debts. Automobile loans, home loans, medical bills and credit card accounts are all considered to be personal debts.

Whenever third-party collection agency attempt to collect a debt from you it is supposed to work under the rules and regulations of the FDCPA. These are some of the common and basic guidelines that prohibit a debt collection agency from indulging in certain practices.

They cannot call you before 8 AM or after 9 PM.

They cannot call you at work if they are aware that your employer does not approve of these phone calls.

They cannot harass, oppress, use coercion or abuse you.

They cannot lie to you or falsely imply that you have committed a crime.

They cannot Use unfair practices in an attempt to collect a debt.

They cannot conceal their identity on the phone.

They cannot ignore a written request from you to cease further contact.

The FDCPA also lays guidelines for how a debt collection agency is supposed to communicate with you.

The debt collection agencies prohibited from giving out information about your debt to anyone else except your wife, your parents if you’re a minor and your attorney.

Debt collectors are not allowed to communicate via post card use any kind of symbol or language on an envelope that indicates that they are a debt collection agency. Once a collection agency learns that you are represented by an attorney and has the contact information for the attorney, they can only communicate with the attorney.

Debt collection agencies are prohibited from using any form of harassment or abuse while collecting a debt. They cannot threaten violence against the debtor; threaten the reputation or the property of the consumer. The debt collection agencies cannot use obscene or profane language will communicating with the debtor via phone or through mail. Collection agencies and their collectors cannot publish any kind of listing of consumers that have not paid debt except to a consumer bureau.


If your rights under the FDCPA and have been violated you can file a lawsuit against a debt collector within one year of the date of violation. You can sue them for up to $1000 in punitive damages in addition to the actual damages and attorney fees.

Limitations of Statute of Limitations For Debt Collection Accounts

The statute of limitation on the debt only prevents the debt collection agency from winning a judgment against you in a court of law if you can prove that the statute of limitation has expired. However the statute of limitations has its limitations. It does not stop the collector from making further collection of us from you. Even though the statute of limitation is over they can still try and collect the debt from you. While the expiry of the statute of limitation will relent the debt collection agency to win lawsuit against you they can still file the lawsuit. The statute of limitation does not erase the debt. Even though the time limitation during which you can be sued for recovery a court of law may be over it is still your debt and you still owe money for it. Statute of limitation does not prevent the account being reported to the credit bureaus when it expires. The credit reporting time on a debt is different from the statute of limitation. The debt account will continue to be report to the credit bureaus till the time that the credit reporting time expires, which in the case of most of the debts is seven years.

What Is Your Statute of Limitation on a Debt?

The statute of limitation is usually between 3 to 6 years but can be as high as 15 years in some states. Check with the office of your state Atty Gen in order to find out what the statute of limitation on your debt is in your state. Some kinds of debt do not have a statute of limitation at all. This usually includes money that is owed on federal loans such as student loans, child support in some states and unpaid income taxes.

Some sneaky and unethical debt election agencies may pursue you when you change the state of your presence and use the statute of limitation prevalent in your home state if the statute of limitation is longer than the state in which you currently reside.

Using Statute of Limitation to Your Advantage

The statute of limitation is a period of time within which a collector can sue you in a court of law in order to force you to pay on a debt. This time period starts from the last date that the account saw activity. Different states have different time periods for statute of limitation on debts.

It is common enough for debt collection agencies to try and collect on a debt even though the statute of limitation on the debt is over. They may threaten you with a lawsuit in hopes that you may not be aware of your statute of limitation and may agree to pay them. There are two things that you should know at this point of time. First of all the debt collection agency is under the violation of the FDCPA by threatening you with a lawsuit when it knows that it won’t or cannot file a lawsuit. The second thing that you should know is that while the statute of limitation tremendous a collection agency from suing you in a court of law for the debt recovery after the time period is over, it does not prevent them from making collection efforts.

If the statute of limitation is over on your debt then it’s possible that you do not have to pay on your debt at all since you cannot be sued for it. However the one thing that you must be very very careful about is not starting the statute of limitation all over again. Making a payment, making a promise of payment, entry on a payment agreement or making a charge using the account can recharge the statute of limitation on an account. This is why you should be very careful with any kind of communication with the creditor or the debt collection agency. If you reset the clock on your statute of limitation, it will start right at the beginning and be valid for the further tenure of whatever the statute of limitation was initially.

What Is the Meaning Statute of Limitation on Debts

It is common for an unpaid debt to get transferred from one collection agency to another. It is common for your debt to transfer hands between several collection agencies. This process can be frustrating as you have new collection agencies to deal with every time and you have to start the process of debt validation as well as sending cease and desist letter is all over again. But this cycle of trying to collect from you has is to stop somewhere and after some time. This is where the statute of limitation comes in. Statute of limitation is the federal as well as a state law that prohibits a collector from suing you in a court of law and forcing you to pay on a debt after a certain period of time. The state that you will determine what are the statute of limitation is on your particular kind of debt and usually ranges from 3 to 6 years.

The statute of limitation on a debt should not be confused with the time limit that a debt can be listed on a credit report. Most kind of unpaid debts stay on the credit report for a period of seven years although tax liens and bankruptcies can stay a period of 15 to 10 years respectively. The credit reporting time limit is separate from the statute of limitation and it is not inconsistent of limitation for collecting a debt.

The statute of limitation collecting a debt is a time period within which a collector can sue you in a court of law and forced to pay for a debt. The time period starts on the accounts last date of activity and differs with different states.

Frequently Asked Questions for Debt Validation

What is initial communication?

Initial communication is the first time that a collection agency communicate with your. It can be through written mail, e-mail or over the telephone. Any kind of communication by the debt collector even if it is the summons to appear in court counts as the initial communication. The debt collection agency is required by the law to send you a notice uprising you of your right to dispute a debt within five days of the initial communication.

What if you do not receive a debt validation notice after the initial communication?

Even if you did not receive a written debt validation notice from the collection agency you can still sending your letter ask for verification of the debt. This is your federal right. If the initial communication was through a letter then it is possible that the notice for debt validation was included in the letter. This is permitted according to the federal law. Whether you did or did not receive a debt validation notice from the debt collection agency make sure that you send your request for debt verification before 30 days of the initial communication to enforce your right.

What does a debt validation notice contained?

When a collector since you are validation notice it should include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, the assumption that the debt will be paid unless you choose to dispute it within 30 days and a statement uprising you that you can request the name and address of the original creditor than 30 days.

How to prove that a debt collector received your validation request?

In order to have hard evidence that your letter for a validation request was received by the debt collection agency you need to send your letter through certified mail with return receipt requested. The return receipt will prove that the letter was received at the address as well as use of the person receiving it. You can use a tracking number on the certified mailing receipt to check the status of the letter and find out the date on which it was received.

What If the Collector Does Not Respond to a Validation Request

if the collector does not respond to your validation request within 30 days he loses the right to collect the debt from you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a collection agency to make any effort to collect a debt from the consumer once it has failed to respond to a validation request within 30 days.

Can you dispute the debt after the validation period Is over?

You can always ask the debt collection agency to validate a debt that it is seeking to collect from you. However the debt collection agency is under no legal obligation to honour your request or respond to it in any manner. It is not compelled by the law to stop making collection efforts if your request for debt validation is sent after the period of 30 days after the initial communication is over.

A disputed debt Still Appears on the Credit Report

if your debt still appears on your credit report even though you have sent a debt validation request to the collection agency you can check whether the debt collection agency did receive your dispute at all. You should always send your requests through the United States Postal Service certified mail where you can use their website to confirm when the letter was received by the debt collection agency.

You should also make sure that you sent the dispute within a 30 day window from the time that the debt collection agency made its very first initial communication with you. Sending a debt validation request up to 30 days means that the debt collector is not legally bound to stop collection effort or to stop reporting it to the credit bureau.

If in spite of having received your debt validation request in time the collection agency continues to report your debt to the credit bureau than you can file a dispute with the credit bureau by either sending in your dispute through mail or filing it online. Having proof of the delivery of the validation request through certified mail will help you provide concrete evidence of the violation of your right by the debt collection agency.

How do you report a debt collection agency for violating your rights?

If you have sufficient proof that a debt collection agency has violated your rights under the FDCPA you can sue it in a federal court of law or a state court for up to $1000 including damages. You should report the violation of rights to the federal Trade Commission, to the state attorney general’s office and the better business bureau.

15 Common Violations Of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ( FDCPA )

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, dictates how debt collectors can act when collecting a debt from you. These are things a debt collector can’t do along with the reference to particular law provided for the violations.

1. Ask you to pay more than you owe

The collector cannot misrepresent the amount you owe. [15 USC 1692e] § 807(2)(a)

2. Ask you to pay interest, fees, or expenses that are not allowed by law

The collector can’t add on any extra fees that your original credit or loan agreement doesn’t allow. [15 USC 1692f] § 808(1)

3. Call repeatedly or continuously

The FDCPA considers repeat calls as harassment. [15 USC 1692d] § 806(5)

4. Use obscene, profane, or abusive language

Using this kind of language is considered harassment. [15 USC 1692d] § 806(2)

5. Call before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm

Calls during these times are considered harassment. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(a)(1)

6. Call at times the collector knew or should know is inconvenient

Calls at these times are considered harassment. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(a)(1)

7. Use or threaten to use violence if you don’t pay the debt

Collectors can’t threaten violence against you. [15 USC 1692d] § 806(1)

8. Threaten action they cannot or will not take

Collectors can’t threaten to sue or file charges against you, garnish wages, take property, cause job loss, or ruin your credit when the collector cannot or does not intend to take the action. [15 USC 1692e] § 807(5)

9. Illegally inform a third party about your alleged debt

Unless you have expressly given permission, collectors are not allowed to inform anyone about your debt except:

· Your attorney

· The creditor

· The creditor’s attorney


A credit reporting agency

· Your spouse

· Your parent (if you are a minor)

[15 USC 1692c] § 805(b)

10. Repeatedly call a third party to get your location information

The collector can only contact a third party once unless it has reason to believe the information previously provided is false. [15 USC 1692b] § 804(1)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, dictates how debt collectors can act when collecting a debt from you. These are things a debt collector can’t do. If you need to reference the law, citations have been provided.

11. Contact you at work knowing your employer doesn’t approve

A collector is not allowed to contact you at work if you’ve let them know your employer doesn’t approve of these calls. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(a)(3)

12. Fail to send a written debt validation notice

Within five days of the collector’s initial communication, it must send you a notice include the amount of the debt, name of the creditor, and notice of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days. [15 USC 1692g] § 809(a)

13. Ignore your written request to verify the debt and continue to collect

A collector can’t continue to collect on a debt after you’ve made a written request to verify the debt as long as the request was made within 30 days of the collector’s written notice. [15 USC 1692g] § 809(b)

14. Continue to collect on the debt before providing verification

After receiving your written dispute, the collector must stop collecting on the debt until you have received verification. [15 USC 1692g] § 809(b)

15. Continue collection attempts after receiving a cease communication notice

If you make a written request for the collector to cease communication, it can only contact you one more time, via mail to let you know one of the following: that further efforts to collect the debt are terminated, that certain actions may be taken by the collector, or that the collector is definitely going to take certain actions. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(c).

Should You Pay Back A Debt That Is Old, Fallen Off Your Credit Report and with an Expired Statute of Limitation?

There are circumstances in which you may safely decide not to pay the debt. If the debt is more than seven years old and has all of your credit report then there will be no benefit to your credit history and to your credit score if you pay off the debt now. If it has fallen off your credit history then the odds are that statute of limitations has also expired on it which means that the creditor or the collection agency cannot sue you for recovery in a federal court. Although they can continue to make the effort of recovering the debt from you they cannot take a court judgment to recover the debt from you.

However, you should understand that you do have a moral obligation and responsibility to pay back the money that you borrowed. Paying back the debt that you owe also serves to enhance the self-esteem and makes you feel better about yourself. As mentioned before even though the debt may be removed from your credit report of credit has become older than seven years and the statute of limitation may expire, the creditor or the collection agency can continue to make the effort of collecting the debt from you. Although the collection agency is prohibited from making contact with you once you send in a cease and decease letter, they make the need to harass you about the debt till much later. You may consider paying off the debt to avoid this kind of an inconvenience or you can report them to the federal Trade Commission or sue them in a court of law for actual and punitive damages.