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New York Statute of Limitations & Utility Bill

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedDec 2, 2022
Key Takeaways:
  • In New York, a plaintiff has 6 years to take action on a contract.
I have an unpaid utility bill in New York from 7 years ago that just appeared on my credit report. Is that legal?

I live in NY, can a gas company report an unpaid bill from the year 2003 (7 yrs later) for the amount of $116 dollars that I did not know that I owed, to the credit agency (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian)? When I initially started my new service with the gas company in 2009, I was never told that there was an old balance owed.

According to the Laws of New York CVP Article 2 § 213, a plaintiff has 6 years to take action on a contractual obligation or liability.

However, CVP Article 2 § 213 concerns using the courts of New York to get a legal remedy for a debt. Parties are not bound privately by CVP Article 2 § 213. By that I mean, the utility may be time-barred from asking a New York court for a judgment regarding your $116 unpaid bill, but it is not barred from collecting the debt privately. The utility is within its rights in New York to refuse to do business with a former customer who has an outstanding balance on their account. (This is not the case in all states, however.)

Therefore, even though the statute of limitations has passed, it is within the utility’s right to condition doing business with you on your making your account current.

To learn more, read New York's Debtor and Creditor state statutes.

Seven-Year Rule

Federal law (US Code Title 15, §1681c) controls the behavior of credit reporting agencies (CRAs). The specific law is called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under FCRA §605 (a) and (b), an account in collection will appear on a consumer’s credit report for up to 7½ years. To determine when an account will be removed by the CRAs (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian and others), add 7 years to the date of first delinquency. The date of first delinquency is shown in credit reports. Subsequent activity, such as resolving the debt or one debt collector selling the debt to another collector, is irrelevant to the 7-year rule.

Some debts have a reporting period longer than 7 years, including:

  • Tax liens: 10 years if unpaid, or 7 years from the payment date
  • Bankruptcy: 10 years from the date of filing (15 U.S.C. §1681c)
  • Perkins student loans: Until paid in full (20 U.S.C. §1087cc(c)(3))
  • Direct and FFEL loans: 7 years from default or rehabilitation date (20 U.S.C. §1080a(f)(1) and 20 U.S.C. §1087e(a)(1))
  • Judgments: 7 years or the debtor’s state statute of limitations on judgments, whichever is longer

The FCRA 7-year rule is separate from state statutes of limitations for debt issues.

Here, the unpaid bill can appear on your credit report from the month in 2003 that the account became delinquent plus 7 years. The date that you paid the balance due is irrelevant to the 7-year rule. Monitor your credit report to be certain this derogatory entry is deleted at the appropriate time.

See the Bills.com resource Collections Agencies, Collections Laws and Your State’s Statute of Limitations to learn more about the nuances of collections, and what the statute of limitations does and does not mean.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

Dealing with debt

Mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, and auto loans are common types of debts. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q2 2022 was $16.15 trillion. Housing debt totaled $11.71 trillion and non-housing debt was $4.45 trillion.

According to data gathered by Urban.org from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1.739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 10% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.

Each state has its rate of delinquency and share of debts in collections. For example, in Oregon credit card delinquency rate was 2%, and the median credit card debt was $463.

While many households can comfortably pay off their debt, it is clear that many people are struggling with debt. Make sure that you analyze your situation and find the best debt payoff solutions to match your situation.

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2 Comments

SSherrie Decarlo-Hunter, Apr, 2016
Hi, I live in NYS and have an utility bill from 2010 that was put on my credit report in 2014. For $2100.00. I don't think any interest was added. Can they do that that later on? And what are my options at this point. I am trying to get credit built up and that's on one of the credit reports expirien and not on transunion. I want to dismiss it. What are my options?
BBetsalel Cohen, Apr, 2016

Yes, they can report a delinquent bill. I

f the information is accurate, then it will drop off 7 years after the delinquency. Since it is an old bill, the major damage to your credit has already been done. You should keep on top of your credit report.

It sounds as if the statute of limitations (SOL) is about to run out. If the SOL is almost over, then you might be best off by not contacting the creditor. However, if the creditor does decide to seek a court judgment, then do not ignore the summons.If the SOL expired, then you can enter an affirmative defense. If the SOL hasn't expired, then you might want to reach a settlement and avoid a public judgment.

In terms of improving your credit, make sure that you make all of your payments on time. Keep open a few tradelines, preferably an assortment of credit types. Avoid the minimum payment cycle on your credit cards and keep your credit utilization low.