Debt seems to be a national problem in the United States. No matter where you live, you could fall into it, as it depends on your income and lifestyle more than your location. The solution, on the other hand, is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Your options are going to be different depending on where you are. The statute of limitations, which will help you either avoid or get out of lawsuits from creditors, is different in every state, and even by time. The Statute of Limitations in Arizona, for instance, has changed.
|Oral Contract||3 years|
|Written Contract||6 years|
|Promissory Note||6 years|
|Open Accounts||6 years|
Previously, due to a vague law and a court ruling, the statute of limitations on credit cards ran out in three years. Now, the length of time has been doubled to six years. This gives credit card companies longer to add fees to your debt, as well as giving them longer to collect. Even after the six years are up, the statute of limitations is a technical defense that will probably not keep someone from filing suit against you to collect that debt.
The statute of limitations begins to run out after you’ve missed your first payment. After six years, you should be able to use this as a defense in a civil court. However, that does not mean that, after six years, the debt will leave your credit report. Different debts stay on your credit report for different amounts of time, and this is a completely separate thing from the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is different for different types of contracts. With written agreements, like credit card debt, the statute of limitations lasts for six years, but it lasts three with oral contracts.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, if the statute of limitations is about to run out on a debt, the creditor might panic and try to force you into paying suddenly. Any payment you make, no matter how small, will start the statute of limitations over again so that you would have to wait another six years before your debts were exempt from a lawsuit.
Your best option might be to see a lawyer about your specific situation, as the statute of limitations defense is a tricky one and will depend on your debt and history. Still, if it has been six years since you missed a payment on a debt, and they come to collect, keep in mind that even one small payment will start the clock all over again.
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.