Handling Debt Collectors: What are Time Barred Debts?
"Time-barred" debts are debts so old they are beyond the point at which a creditor or debt collector may sue you to collect. State law varies as to when a creditor or debt collector may no longer sue to collect: in most states, the statute of limitations period on debts is between 3 and 10 years; in some states, the period is longer. Federal law imposes limitations on how debt collectors can collect debts, including time-barred debts. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a "debt collector" generally is any person or organization that regularly collects debts owed to others. The term includes lawyers who collect debts for others on a regular basis, but it does not include creditors collecting their own debts. Most courts that have addressed the issue have ruled that the FDCPA does not prohibit debt collectors from trying to collect time-barred debts, as long as they do not sue or threaten to sue you for the debt. If a debt collector sues you to collect a time-barred debt, you can have the suit dismissed by letting the court or judge know the debt is, indeed, time-barred. Old debts are usually purchased by scavenger debt collectors.
You can stop debt collectors from contacting you about any debt, regardless of whether you owe it, by writing a letter telling them to stop contacting you. Once the collector gets your letter, it may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact or to let you know that the collector or creditor intends to take some specific action.
Our debt negotiation section will help you deal effectively with debt collectors and settle your delinquent account for a fraction of what you owe. It includes sample letters you can use to get debt collectors to stop contacting you about old, out of statute debt.