Statute of Limitations on Debt

Highlights

  • 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.
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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.

Quick Tip
If debt is causing you distress, consult with a Bills.com to get no-cost advice about your debt resolution options.

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.

Beware
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 Bills.com 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 Bills.com page.

  Statute of Limitations on Debt Community
Property
Judgment Rate Mortgage
Anti-
Deficiency
Credit
Card
Verbal
Contract
Written
Contract
Judgment1
Alabama 3 6 6 or 10 20   12.00% No
Alaska 3 3 3 10 Yes 10.00% Depends2
Arizona 3 3 6 5 Yes Fed + 5 Yes
Arkansas 3 3 5 10   10.50% Depends3
California 2 or 4 2 4 10 Yes 10.00% Yes
Colorado 6 6 6 20   8.00% No
Connecticut 6 6 6 10 or 20   10.00% No
Delaware 4 3 3 5   FedDisc+5 No
D.C. 3 3 3 3   70% IRS% No
Florida 4 4 5 20   10.00% No
Georgia 4 or 614 4 6 7   12.00% No
Hawaii 6 6 6 10   10.00% No
Idaho 4 5 10 20 Yes 9.00% No
Illinois 5 5 10 20   8.00% No
Indiana 6 6 10 20   10.00% No
Iowa 5 5 10 6   Treasury+2 No (PDF)
Kansas 3 3 6 5   FedDisc+4 No
Kentucky 5 5 15 15   12.00% No
Louisiana 3 10 10 10 Yes 9.00% No
Maine 6 6 6 20   7.50% No
Maryland 3 3 310 12   15.00% No
Massachusetts 6 6 6 20   10.00% No
Michigan 49 6 6 10   20.00% No
Minnesota 6 6 6 10   6.90% No
Mississippi11 3 3 3 7   5.00% Yes
Missouri 5 5 10 10   Contract No
Montana 5 5 8 10   9.00% Depends3
Nebraska 4 4 5 55   Prime+2 No
Nevada 413 4 6 10 Yes 9.00% No
New Hampshire 3 3 3 20   10.00% No
New Jersey 6 6 6 14   Varies No
New Mexico 4 4 6 20 Yes 8.75% No
New York 6 6 6 20   8.00% No
North Carolina 3 3 3 10   10.00% Depends4
North Dakota 6 6 6 6   Bond+1% No
Ohio ?6 6 8 or 158 57   12.00% No
Oklahoma 3 or 5 3 5 5   10.00% Depends4
Oregon 6 6 6 10   T-bill+4% No
Pennsylvania 4 4 4 5   6.00% No
Rhode Island 10 10 10 20   9.00% No
South Carolina 3 3 3 10   Prime+4 No
South Dakota 6 6 6 10   12.00% Depends3
Tennessee 6 6 6 10   10.00% No
Texas 4 4 4 10 Yes 10.00% No
Utah 4 4 6 8   6% or 18% No
Vermont 6 6 6 20   12.00% No
Virginia 3 3 5 8   Contract No
Washington 6 3 6 10 Yes 9 Depends4
West Virginia 5 5 10 20   10.00% Depends
Wisconsin12 6 6 6 20 Yes 12.00% No
Wyoming 8 8 10 5   12.00% No
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 (Nebraska Revised Statute 25-1515)
6. See the Bills.com resource Ohio Collection Laws.
7. Five years, then becomes dormant unless revived by the judgment-creditor (Ohio Revised Code 2329.07)
8. 15 years for actions accrued before Sept. 28, 2012, and 8 years for actions accruing after that date (Ohio Revised Code 2305.06 as per SB 224)
9. See Fisher Sand and Gravel Co v Neal A. Sweebe, Inc, 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 Nevada Collection Laws for a discussion of how Nevada state courts view statute of limitations for credit cards.
14. See Georgia Collection Laws for a discussion of how Georgia state courts view statute of limitations for credit cards.

 

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