Time-barred debt and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Missourians who are experiencing financial turmoil will feel overwhelmed at the pressures they face. This can come from the uncertain future and the constant calls and letters they receive from debt collectors who want to get all or some of what is owed. While some debts will be subject to collection attempts regardless of when they were accrued, there are protections that a consumer has based on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For debts that are “time-barred,” it is important to know the alternatives. As with any financial issue, getting on stronger financial ground frequently requires legal assistance.

Certain debts with a statute of limitations make it impossible for debt collectors to file a lawsuit to collect on them after a certain amount of time has passed. If it is time-barred, no lawsuit can be filed. Depending on the situation, it is not a complete protective device as state laws differ and the clock can restart in some cases. It is important to remember that FDCPA protects debtors against debt collectors with time-barred debts, but the original creditor can still try and collect.

If a debt collector is contacting a debtor regarding a time-barred debt, the collector is legally able to do so. In many instances, they might tell the debtor that the debt is time-barred and they cannot file a lawsuit should the debtor not pay it. When there is a time-barred debt and the debt collector does not inform the debtor of this and the debtor believes it is time-barred, the debtor can ask directly. Under the law, the debt collector must tell the truth. They can refuse to answer. Knowing the date of the last payment that was made can be used to determine when the statute of limitations began and it can result in learning that a debt is time-barred.

Debtors can do the following with a time-barred debt: not pay it; make a partial payment; or pay it off. If there is a lawsuit because of a time-barred debt, the debtor would benefit from getting legal advice on how to defend the case and to assert the rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that protects consumers from being mistreated, abused or subjected to legal violations. A legal firm that represents consumers and helps them under FDCPA can be contacted for advice.