If you’ve ever been surprised by a letter from a collection agency about an unpaid bill you don’t even remember, you’ve probably wondered about how long debt collectors can legally try to receive payment for a delinquent debt. We mentioned in a previous article that the statute of limitations in this state is five years. However, the responsibility falls on you to use the statute of limitations as a defense. When you hire us at ZinnLaw of Fort Myers, FL to file for bankruptcy, we will, of course, use this defense.
However, that five-year statute of limitations only applies to written consumer debts, there are other statutes that apply to several types of debt.
- If what you have is an oral contract, the statute of limitations is four years.
- If you have a tax lien due to unpaid property taxes the county or city cannot go to court to recover the property taxes after 20 years.
- If the claim involves the planning, design, or construction of real estate the statute is four years.
- A payment bond involving subcontractors or contractors has a two-year statute.
- With the exception of foreclosures, real estate property claims have a four-year statute of limitations.
- When it comes to mortgages, the lender has five years from the date of the first missed payment to pursue a foreclosure judgement.
Also, you need to know that when you take particular actions, you can renew the statute of limitations and collection agencies know this. So, if they ask you to make a partial payment, don’t do it. The moment you make that good faith payment, the clock gets reset for the statute of limitations and the creditor can file a suit against you.
What Creditors Are Allowed To Do to Debtors
- Stop doing business with you. For example, a credit card company can cancel your card. Or, a doctor’s office can dismiss you from the practice if you have an outstanding balance.
- Report your debt to credit bureaus. This will make your delinquent debt appear on your credit reports, which will impact your credit score. Debt collectors often threaten this action to scare you into paying.
- Contact you to ask for payment. Creditors can contact you by phone, text, email or letter to ask you to pay your debt. Debt collection agencies can do the same.
- File a lawsuit to collect the debt. Creditors and collection agencies can sue you to collect unpaid debts. This is often a tactic they use to get paid. It’s hard to predict if they will follow through on the threat or when a lawsuit might actually occur. If you do receive a summons, contact the court directly to confirm the notice is accurate. Look up the court’s contact information online and don’t call the number on the letter. Some unscrupulous debt collectors will send fake court summons to coerce you into paying.
Why do debt collectors pressure you?
In a word, money. If you feel scared or threatened, you’re more likely to make a payment. Collectors know if they call repeatedly and make threatening statements, you’re more likely to pay them money, even if it’s not in your and your family’s best interests. So how can you stop harassing calls from bill collectors? Come in to ZinnLaw for a free bankruptcy consultation. Once you hire us, we will begin sending letters to creditors demanding that they stop harassing you. For more than 30 years, Brian Zinn and his associates at ZinnLaw have been helping people get a fresh start by declaring bankruptcy.