A reader's fiance thinks he's found a loophole, and he might be right.

Question: My fiance and I are getting married next summer. Like you’ve always suggested to engaged couples, we sat down and had an honest talk about our finances.

In college, I was more reckless, and I ran up $2,000 on a credit card I never paid. I actually forgot about it until my fiance and I talked. He says I shouldn’t pay it at all!

He says there’s a “statute of limitations” on debt just like there is for some crimes — six years. He says it’s simple: Don’t pay and the debt goes away! I love him very much, but I’m not going to take his word on ANY of this. What do you say, Howard?

— Patricia in Rhode Island

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Your fiance is right about the concept, way off on the years, and very wrong about it being “simple.”

There’s no single statute of limitations on debt. There are 50 of them — one for each state, and they’re all very different. That’s only the beginning of the complexity, which is why I made the short video below to explain it.

To learn more about this topic, check out Debt.com’s special report, How Long Can Debt Collectors Chase Me? — which includes an interactive map that lets you check out each state’s rules. The last paragraph is one of the most important: Just because the statute of limitations frees you from any legal action, it doesn’t free you from debt collectors still coming after you.

Those collectors will still try to wear you down until you pay something. That’s legal, but harassment is not. What constitutes harassment? Check out our special section, Collector Harassment Basics.

As with any complex topic that carries expensive consequences, I suggest you consult one of Debt.com’s certified credit counselors at 1-800-810-0989. They can walk you through the details and even suggest other novel and legal ways to get out of debt.
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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC