How Long Can a Debt Collector Pursue an Old Debt?

August 10, 2018 Posted by kingcade

When it comes to debt collections, certain rules do exist as to how long a debt collector can attempt to collect on a debt. These rules apply to the actual lawsuits themselves, as well as credit reporting.

Statute of Limitations

Every state has what is referred to as a statute of limitations, laws which set a limit as to how long an individual has to bring a legal claim on a certain matter. States have limitations on how long a debt collector has to collect on a debt. In Florida, the statute of limitations varies for different types of debts. For written contracts such as personal loans, the statute of limitations is five years. So once this type of debt is more than five years past due, the lender can no longer sue in order to collect owed money.

However, the problem is the debt collectors are not obligated to tell the consumer that they are past the statute of limitations. It is up to the consumer to do the research and know his or her rights if a debt collector is trying to communicate with a them regarding an old debt.  There are ways to deal with old debt. Most states have a statute of limitations for debt collections that restricts collections on debts that are four to six years after the date the debtor last made a payment.

One thing to keep in mind, if you think the debt is past the statute of limitations- do not pay on it, until you confirm. A single payment towards an old debt can revive that debt, restarting the statute of limitations.

Indefinite Attempts to Receive Payment

Technically, while there are laws that state how long a debt collector can take legal actions to collect on a debt, there is no law saying they cannot keep trying to contact the individual to pay on the amount.  For all purposes, the original creditor can try to get the individual to pay indefinitely, unless the debt has been settled or discharged in bankruptcy.

The law does restrict certain tactics taken by third-party debt collectors who are trying to collect on a past-due debt. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) specifically prohibits any communication from third-party collectors that is abusive, harassing or threatening. If a third-party debt collector is continuing to call to the point where the communication is harassing, the individual can send a written letter ordering that debt collector to cease and desist.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at