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Can Creditors Collect on My Debt When it is an Old Debt?

Had a conversation with a potential client who asked when a debt is too old for a debt collector to collect on. The statute of limitations varies by state and ranges between 3 and 10 years. In PA, the statute of limitations on contract claims is 4 years. (She may need to look at the fine print of the contract though because sometimes it will say that another state’s laws controls). This doesn’t mean that a creditor can no longer attempt to collect a debt, it just means that they can no longer sue on the debt.

 Keep in mind that the statute does not start to run until the debt is delinquent. So if you took out the card in 2005 but didn’t stop making payments until 2007, you start counting the years until they cannot sue beginning in 2007. Also collectors can cause you to turn the clock back (re-age the debt) if you make any payment on the account in the meantime. So if the statute has run but you now send them a payment, you have re-aged the debt and once again they can sue you for the balance.  This is the reason that creditors will often ask you to make an extremely small payment on a debt that is several years old.