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Statute of Limitations on Debt

Statute of Limitations | Scales of justice balancing a clock & currency

Updated: Jan 30, 2015


  • Review your state's statute of limitation laws.
  • Get statute of limitation laws on various types of debt.
  • Understand that statute of limitations issues can be complicated and may require consulting with an attorney.
(54 Votes)

Statute of Limitations Laws by State

Below find consumer statutes of limitations laws for the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Use this as a starting point for your research — it is not legal advice. Consult an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

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The statute of limitations listed below concern breach of contract. This is the legal reason a creditor must use to file a lawsuit against a delinquent borrower. Statutes of limitation vary by debt type. A statute of limitations clock usually starts the moment a borrower becomes delinquent on a debt. The clock can be paused if the debtor leaves the country or even the state, depending on state law.

An expired statute of limitations clock does not mean the original creditor is stopped from filing a lawsuit against a delinquent debtor. (An exception to this rule applies to Mississippi and Wisconsin residents.) An expired statute of limitations gives a borrower an affirmative defense he or she can use as a shield to stop a lawsuit. A borrower must inform the court the statute of limitations defense applies — a court will not raise this issue on its own.

Some Internet commentators simplify statute of limitations rules to a phrase like, “An original creditor can’t sue you if the statute of limitations has passed.” This is a false interpretation of the law in all but two states. However, courts have decided the FDCPA bars collection agents from suing consumers for expired debt.

Some creditors file lawsuits against delinquent borrowers even though the statute of limitations clock expired. Creditor do so because, unfortunately, many consumers do not understand their rights or hope if they ignore a notice of a lawsuit (called a summons and complaint) it will go away. Consult with a lawyer in your state immediately if you receive a notice of a lawsuit. You must or you will lose by default.

Read the article to learn more, including which statute of limitations applies to your situation.

You might wonder what other state laws apply to you. To learn more about your state's rules for wage garnishment and related exemptions, see the page.

  Statute of Limitations on Debt Community
Judgment Rate Mortgage
3 6 6 or 10 20   12.00%
Alaska 3 3 3 10 Yes 10.00% 2
3 3 6 5 Yes Fed + 5
Arkansas 3 3 5 10   10.50% Depends3
2 or 4 2 4 10 Yes 10.00%
6 6 6 20   8.00%
3 3 6 10 or 20   10.00%
Delaware 4 3 3 5   FedDisc+5
D.C. 3 3 3 3   70% IRS% No
4 4 5 20   10.00%
4 or 614 4 6 7   12.00%
Hawaii 6 6 6 10   10.00%
Idaho 4 5 10 20 Yes 9.00%
5 5 10 20   8.00%
6 6 10 20   10.00%
5 5 10 6   Treasury+2 (PDF)
3 3 6 5   FedDisc+4
5 5 15 15   12.00%
3 10 10 10 Yes 9.00%
Maine 6 6 6 20   7.50%
3 3 310 12   15.00%
6 6 6 20   10.00%
49 6 6 10   20.00%
6 6 6 10   6.90%
Mississippi11 3 3 3 7   5.00%
5 5 10 10   Contract
Montana 5 5 8 10   9.00% 3
Nebraska 4 4 5 55   Prime+2
413 4 6 10 Yes 9.00%
New Hampshire 3 3 3 20   10.00%
6 6 6 14   Varies
New Mexico 4 4 6 20 Yes 8.75% No
6 6 6 20   8.00%
3 3 3 10   10.00% 4
North Dakota 6 6 6 6   Bond+1%
?6 6 8 or 158 57   12.00%
3 or 5 3 5 5   10.00% 4
6 6 6 10   T-bill+4%
4 4 4 5   6.00%
Rhode Island 10 10 10 20   9.00%
3 3 3 10   Prime+4
South Dakota 6 6 6 10   12.00% 3
6 6 6 10   10.00%
4 4 4 10 Yes 10.00%
4 4 6 8   6% or 18%
6 6 6 20   12.00%
3 3 5 8   Contract
6 3 6 10 Yes 9 4
West Virginia 5 5 10 20   10.00%
12 6 6 6 20 Yes 12.00%
Wyoming 8 8 10 5   12.00%
Notes 1. Judgments can be renewed in many jurisdictions. In some cases, even a dormant judgment can be renewed.
2. The lender can collect a deficiency after judicial foreclosure, but not on a non-judicial foreclosure.
3. The lender can collect a deficiency depending on the type of foreclosure.
4. The lender can collect a deficiency after judicial foreclosure.
5. If the judgment-creditor sits on their rights for 5 years, the judgment becomes dormant ()
6. See the resource .
7. Five years, then becomes dormant unless revived by the judgment-creditor ()
8. 15 years for actions accrued before Sept. 28, 2012, and 8 years for actions accruing after that date ( as per )
9. See , 293 Mich App 66; 810 NW2d 277 (2011), lv gtd 491 Mich 914; 811 NW2d 496 (2012)
10. Default is 3 years, but can be 12 years for "special" contracts.
11. Upon expiration of the statute of limitations clock, the creditor loses the right to file a lawsuit. “The completion of the period of limitation prescribed to bar any action shall defeat and extinguish the right as well as the remedy.” Miss. Code Ann. 8 15-1 -3.
12. Upon expiration of the statute of limitations clock, the creditor loses the right to file a lawsuit. “When the period within which an action may be commenced on a Wisconsin cause of action has expired, the right is extinguished along with the remedy.” Wis. Stat. 8893.05.
13. See for a discussion of how Nevada state courts view statute of limitations for credit cards.
14. See for a discussion of how Georgia state courts view statute of limitations for credit cards.
(54 Votes)

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  • BR
    Jul, 2014
    Meridian, Texas
    I am receiving letters on medical debt that is 12 years old. It shows amount but not where the debt was accrued. Only that this company bought it from another company who was a debt collector. Statute of limitations is Texas is 4 years on most things and 10 on Judgements. The people sending me notices are out of state! What do I do? Ignore or send verification letters?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jul, 2014
      Take these four steps:
      1. Validate the debt. A debt that cannot be validated cannot be collected. Roughly half of all collection accounts cannot be validated.
      2. Learn your state's statute of limitations. If the clock for your state's statute of limitations for written contracts expired, then send the collection agent a cease communications notice.
      3. If the collection agent validates the debt, and the statute of limitations clock has not expired, then negotiate a settlement to the debt. A settlement can be for less than the amount the collection agent claims you owe.
      4. If you receive a notice of a lawsuit, consult with a lawyer to file an answer. Ignoring a lawsuit will not make it go away and will almost certainly make your situation worse.

      You mentioned Texas, so I will assume you reside in Texas. Learn more about Texas Collection Laws to understand your rights and liabilities.

      0 Votes

  • RM
    Jun, 2014
    Clinton, NC
    Yesterday we received a Notice of Right to have exemptions designated from a judgement that was filed on April 30, 2008. I have absolutely no recollection of ever receiving summons. It is for Discover card and I do know that this is the 2nd "Law firm/Collection Agency" that we have been contacted by. Of course we plan to fill out the notice, but what other steps should we take. How can we protect our banking accounts? The debt is in my name only. I have a checking account in my name only and a joint checking and savings account with my husband. We have no real assets that they can take.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jun, 2014
      You mentioned being surprised by this judgment. Your experience is not unique. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience. Discuss filing a motion to dismiss based on an ineffective service of process.
      0 Votes

  • AC
    Jun, 2014
    Double Oak, TX
    I received a complaint filed to the courts in Ohio. Its for a student loan back in 2003, but I was not living there at that time. Last time I was in Ohio was 2001. I am about to write my answer to them. Do I send one to the courts and the attorney? Also, this is over 10 years ago. Are there SOLs for student loans?
    0 Votes

  • AM
    May, 2014
    Beaverton, OR
    I have a judgment on my account from a house fire. I was not able to show up in court nor did I know how to fill out the paperwork. So the insurance company got a judgment with inaccurate information, obviously because I was unable to show up in court. Can this insane amount of money be written off in a chapter 7 bankruptcy? There is no way I can ever pay this off -- it is in the 6 figure range. They totally took advantage of my situation. I'm concerned that due to this amount I'm never going to get ahead because I will have this lingering over my head.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      May, 2014
      Some judgments can be discharged by bankruptcy, and others cannot. You did not mention the cause of action against you, so we cannot say which category your judgment falls into. Consult with a lawyer who has bankruptcy experience to learn the answer to your question.
      0 Votes

  • JS
    May, 2014
    University City, MO
    I've had a private student loan, I think since 2009. Someone called me today and says they are a lawyer and I have to pay at least 1200 of the 2000 loan by Friday, or I would face a lawsuit. What should I do?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      May, 2014
      Follow the steps we described to Melissa T. on May 12, 2014 below.

      The key fact you need to learn is the date you made your last payment. That date sets the starting point for the statute of limitations on your private student loan.
      0 Votes