credit card debt header graphic

Credit Card Statute of Limitations

Every state has a credit card statute of limitations as to how much time they have in order to file a lawsuit for an unpaid credit card bill. The amount of time varies, but it is usually somewhere between three and five years. If the lawsuit is not filed within this statute of limitations window, they cannot file suit.

Now this does not mean that they can’t still hire collection companies to call you and harass you over the credit card bill, because they can. But they have no legal action that they can use against you. They can and will often use other means of collection as well. But the key distinction is that after the stature of limitations has passed, the court will no longer help them collect their debt.

When looking for credit card statutes in the law, you will probably not find a direct reference to credit cards. You will find references, however, to “open accounts” – a category in which credit card debts fall.

If you are sued and the creditor wins the case, the judgement, as well as any other credit card judgements,  will remain on your credit report for at least seven years (sometimes longer depending on the circumstances).

Computing the credit card statue of limitations for your particular state can be tricky because the key question is what date is used as the beginning of the statute of limitations period. For some states, the clock begins to tick from the last payment that the debtor made. For other states, however, the date begins when the credit card company formally declares the account as delinquent. For the most accurate information for your state, it is probably best to consult a lawyer.

One thing to be acutely aware of, however, is starting up the statute of limitations clock again. Let’s say, for example, a state has a 3 year credit card statute of limitations. You haven’t made a payment in 2 years and 11 months but for some reason you make a payment at that time. If you do so, in most states, you have essentially reset the clock – giving the creditor another 3 years to file suit.

Basically, the rationale for having a credit card statue of limitations boils down to not putting an unnecessary burden on the plaintiff. People can only be expected to keep accurate records for so long before it becomes untenable. Companies, however, with their resources, can keep records forever – giving them an unfair advantage if there were no limit to the number of years in which they could go back.

Debt Settlement
Debt settlement is a process whereby you come to agreement with the creditor on a debt that you owe him to pay only a portion of the debt in return for the debt being forgiven.

Debt Management
Debt management programs are designed for those who have let their debt get so much out of control that it is threatening to pull the family into bankruptcy or worse.


credit card debt (home)

Copyright – 2009 credit card statute of limitations