The statute of limitations on debt limits how long you can be penalized for previous credit mistakes. Georgia limits this window of opportunity where a creditor may sue you on defaulted debt. It ranges from 4 to 6 years, depending on the type of debt.
|Oral Contract||4 years|
|Written Contract||6 years|
|Promissory Note||6 years|
|Open Accounts||4* years|
Oral contracts are limited to 4 years. That means that difficult to enforce oral agreements are uncollectible in a court of law after 4 years from the initial default. A longer limit of 6 years applies to written contracts. Promissory notes also have a limit of 6 years.
The limit for open accounts is 4 years. Unsecured lines of credit or credit cards are typical types of open accounts. Unfortunately for credit card debtors, a 2008 Georgia court case reclassified credit card accounts as simple written contracts rather than as open accounts. The vast majority of states deem credit cards to be open accounts.
The case was Hill vs. American Express, and it was decided on January 24, 2008. This contradicts the Truth in Lending Act, which defines credit cards as open accounts. Still, it serves as a warning to debtors who think they are in the clear because more than 4 years have passed since they defaulted on their credit cards. Ricky Hill lost his case, and was ordered to repay $47,716.44 to American Express.
The court case muddies the waters when you are considering whether a lawsuit can still be pursued on an older debt. Indeed, it may convince some debtors to try to deal with recent defaults rather than trying to ride it out, hoping that they are not eventually sued for the debt.
The credit blemish from a judgment is already a pretty big penalty. Of course, additional legal actions may be pursued by the lender to force you to pay, which often interferes with your ability to afford your other financial obligations.
Due to the complexities of debt law in Georgia, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney if you are facing legal action on a large debt and are unsure how to proceed. If you can avoid legal action, then you should take all reasonable and feasible actions to do so.
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
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