Debt is a national problem, but debt collection (except for that owed to the IRS, but we won’t get into that) is a state issue. That is why each state has its own statute of limitations. However, the statute of limitations is affected not only by location, but also on the type of debt. For that reason, it is not as simple as saying “the statute of limitations on debt collection in Illinois is x number of years.” There is more to it.
|Oral Contract||5 years|
|Written Contract||10 years|
|Promissory Note||10 years|
|Open Accounts||5 years|
Usually, state laws do not refer specifically to credit cards when defining their statutes of limitations. They are generally lumped in with the written contracts or open accounts. In Illinois, the statute of limitations on written contracts lasts for ten years. But in 2009, a state appeals court ruled that these written contracts did not include credit cards. Since then, the statute of limitations on credit card debt has been five years, but it gets reset every time you act on that account, even if that action is only an agreement to pay.
After five years, the statute of limitations does not grant that the debt is paid. It does not even disallow creditors from attempting to collect, even allowing them to go so far as suing their debtors. If you are in debt, you can use the statute defense to petition that the court throw the lawsuit out. This does require that you actually go into court and present the contract as well as the information you have that says it has been five years since you acted on the debt.
It is important to remember that the debt is still owed once the statute of limitations runs out on it. It is also important to remember that the creditor will probably still try to collect the debt from you. If you acknowledge that you owe the debt, agree to pay, or give them any money towards the debt, the clock will start all over and they will have a better chance of suing you in court for the money. It is on you to show the statute has run out. The debt will still be owed, and it will still cause damage on your credit report, but they will not be able to successfully sue you for that debt.
Kari discovered the magic of writing early, in elementary school, and has devoted every spare moment to it since. She writes fiction for her own amusement, and recently began writing articles for The Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill. Besides writing, she loves spending time with friends and family, reading, and drinking coffee. She defines herself based on her faith in God, her family roots, and her dream of one day publishing a best-selling novel.