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Can A Credit Card Company Sue You After 7 Years?


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Dealing with credit card debt can be a stressful experience, and many individuals worry about the possibility of being sued by a credit card company, even after several years have passed. Yes, a credit card company can sue you after 7 years, but it largely depends on the statute of limitations for debt collection in your state.

Understanding Statute of Limitations

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a legal time limit that dictates how long a creditor has to sue a debtor for an unpaid debt. This time frame varies depending on your location and the type of debt, but it typically ranges from 3 to 10 years.

Resetting the Clock

Certain actions, such as making a partial payment or acknowledging the debt in writing, can reset the statute of limitations. Understanding these nuances is essential.

Factors Influencing Legal Action

Type of Debt

Different types of debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, or personal loans, may have varying statute of limitations and legal consequences.

State Laws

State laws play a significant role in determining the statute of limitations for debt collection. Familiarizing yourself with your state’s laws is crucial.

Actions Taken by Creditors

Credit card companies may choose to pursue legal action at their discretion. Understanding their strategies is essential for debtors.

Protecting Yourself

Verify the Debt

Before taking any action, verify the legitimacy of the debt. Request written verification from the credit card company.

Know Your Rights

Familiarize yourself with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and your rights as a debtor. This legislation offers protections against harassment and unethical debt collection practices.

Consult Legal Advice

If you are concerned about the possibility of being sued or have received a legal notice, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in debt collection issues.

Can A Credit Card Company Sue You After 7 Years?

Question: I was reading on the Internet that if I don’t pay off my credit card bills in seven years, it’s too late for the credit card companies to sue me for not paying. it’s like the statue of limitations for certain crimes. You’re off the hook.

My wife says that’s crazy and wants me to consult an expert. So that’s why I’m writing you. Is this real or not? I hope it is, because I got something like $12,000 or $13,000 on seven or eight cards. It might even be more now.

— Pete in Delaware

Howard Dvorkin answers…

Questions like this one both sadden and frustrate me. I hear them frequently, and I always reply the same way: A little knowledge can be a dangerous (and costly) thing.

In this case, Pete, you and many other people are confusing two different concepts. First, there is a time limit regarding these debts. Second, it’s called a statute of limitations. Third, it’s not what you think.

Video Transcript

Can A Credit Card Company Sue You After 7 Years?

Can a credit card company sue you after 7 years? Credit cards are very complicated and so is the law. When you combine those two things you could easily get overwhelmed. That’s why this question about the statute of limitations is so important.

Here’s the problem, there are dozens of statutes of limitations, each state has their own. They determine how long the collection agencies have to sue you for not paying your debts. After that time, they can’t take you to court, but they can keep bugging you to pay up because your debts haven’t disappeared. Then there’s the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law that says many things, but one of them is this: “most negative items on your credit reports must be removed after seven years”.

So again, the debt is still there but anyone pulling your credit reports won’t see it. I wouldn’t recommend waiting around for years hoping you won’t get sued. That’s a stressful way to live and if you do get sued you could end up getting your wages garnished.

Your best bet is to call a professional now for a free debt analysis. Who do you call? Debt.com of course!

If you’ve stopped paying your credit card bills, your card issuer will probably sell your debt to a collections agency after six months. That agency now has as few as three years and as many as 10 years to take you to court and sue you for that debt.

Why the big range of years? Because it depends on which state you live in. Each sets its own rules, and those rules can vary in the details. Thus, it’s impossible for me, in this limited space, to list all the variables. Debt.com assembled this report, which has an interactive map that shows you all the complicated details by simply rolling your mouse over your state.

Now, just because you can no longer be sued for your debts doesn’t mean they’ve gone away. They’re still there.

The reason you’re probably citing seven years, Pete, is yet another rule. This one comes from the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA. This federal law states that most negative items on your credit report must be removed after seven years.

That doesn’t mean collection agencies won’t still hound you. While they can’t bother you at all hours or make threats — thanks to another law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — they’re not likely to ignore such a large sum.

As you can see, you’re risking a lot by ignoring your debts. If your creditors do sue you, and if they win, you could face wage garnishment. While that’s an extreme, read What Happens If I Stop Paying My Credit Cards? to learn all the scary possibilities.

Before you play chicken with your credit card issuers, Pete, I recommend something else. It won’t cost you anything but some of your free time: Get a free debt analysis from a certified credit counselor. Pete, you might find you have far better options than living several stressful years waiting and wondering if you’ll get sued.

FAQs

Q:

What is the statute of limitations for credit card debt?

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The statute of limitations for credit card debt varies by state and can range from 3 to 10 years or more.
Learn more about how long various accounts can stay on your credit report.

Q:

Can a credit card company sue you for an unpaid debt even if it’s beyond the statute of limitations?

500

It’s possible, but if the debt is beyond the statute of limitations, you have legal defenses to challenge the lawsuit.
Learn more about how debt zombies can haunt you.

Q:

How can I verify the legitimacy of a debt?

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Request written verification from the credit card company, including details of the debt and the original creditor.
Learn more about how to verify your debt.

Q:

What rights do I have under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

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The FDCPA provides protections against harassment, false statements, and unfair debt collection practices by creditors and collection agencies.
Learn more about how the FDCPA protects you.

Q:

When should I consult with an attorney regarding credit card debt?

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If you receive a legal notice, are concerned about potential legal action, or need assistance with debt-related issues, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney experienced in debt collection matters.
Learn more about how a collections attorney can help.

In conclusion, a credit card company can potentially sue you after 7 years if the debt falls within the statute of limitations and certain conditions are met. To protect yourself, it’s essential to understand your rights, verify the debt, and seek legal advice when necessary.

If you have questions about credit card debt, legal actions, or debt collection, don’t wait. Learn how to get your debt under control.

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