Statute of Limitations for collecting a debt?

Legal Q&ACategory: Bankruptcy & Debt CollectionStatute of Limitations for collecting a debt?
Reader asked 5 years ago

Can you tell me what the statute of limitations would be on a debt from Februay 2010 would be? I have been getting calls for the last week that are kind of harrassing. They have contacted my mother and just today they contacted my manager at work and told her that their employee owes money and that they need to have their employee call them back immediately. The debt is from a payday loan company and I thought that I had paid them off. it is going to cost me a fortune to have statements pulled from my financial institution because I am not sure when I paid it and I need statements for 2 1/2 years (my online statements only go back 14 months). Does the statute of limitations go from the date of the deposti of the payday loan or when the payday loan goes into default?The company is called Consolidated (3rd party bill collector) from the phone number 855-638-3568. I talked to them yesterday and told them that I had to investigate the claim because I thought I had it paid in full. They were very pushy trying to get me to settle with them right then and there. Suggestions?

1 Answers
Dave Alden answered 4 years ago

One of the scariest questions a person can ask a lawyer is, “How long would the statute of limitations be …?” First up, you’re describing a collection action which likely, mostly falls under state law. So you need to know what state’s statute of limitations. Next up, there are all kinds of arguments a person can make, to extend a statute of limitations. So, IMHO, yours is precisely the most difficult question to provide any kind of solid answer to.
I will share with you that in CA, where I practice, the statute of limitations on written contracts is four years. But all kinds of exceptions may apply, including sending in a single payment on an installment contract – which re-starts the statute of limitations all over again.
Then there are debt collectors. These are very simple creatures. They exist to be fed. They eat money and will do whatever they need to get more of it. They are voracious. They really don’t care about your legal arguments, including the running of a statute of limitations. They want you to send money. Period.
The statute of limitations only comes into play when someone sues you. Then, one of your affirmative defenses is to allege that the statute of limitations has already run.
There are laws that limit what debt collectors can do. The federal law is the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). You can (and should) read up on it using’s Legal Research tool. Then, wait for a debt collector to violate the law, get their contact information (which they’ll give you because they want you to send money), and send them a demand letter followed by a lawsuit. You can do the latter in small claims court, using the federal law as long as the debt collector called or sent mail to you from another state (inter-state commerce).
Many states also have their own version of the FDCPA. In California it’s the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Research your state’s law and use it in your demand letter and lawsuit. Creditors hate to become the prey of their intended victims!
Hope this helps.

— Dave
Alden Law Group
Aviation & Business
Sacramento, CA
Forum Moderator, Inc.
This response reflects the author’s opinion. It has been published for educational use only. It is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed by this posting.