Can a debt collector who has purchased a debt from a credit card company sue me 15 years after I defaulted on payments?

UPDATED: Aug 22, 2011

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Can a debt collector who has purchased a debt from a credit card company sue me 15 years after I defaulted on payments?

About 15 years ago my husband lost his job and we defaulted on all our credit card debt. We couldn’t pay it and didn’t. They called and finally the phone calls stopped. Then 9 years ago my husband died and I had a child to support. Until recently I had a job but I have a lung disease and am now unable to work; I am 62. I started receiving Social Security. My father died recently and I received a small inheritance of $25,000 which I currently have in a bank account. Can they now take that money if they go to court? Recently, I started receiving calls and a letter stating that this company purchased the debt from the credit card company 6 years ago.

Asked on August 22, 2011 Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The key here will be when your last date of activity was. There is something known as the "statute of limitations". This is the period of time in which a creditor/debt collector can bring a lawsuit against you for a debt. If too much time as gone by, you can no longer be sued. In FL the statute of limitations on credit card debt is 4 years. Therefore, if the date of last activity was more than that your creditor/debt collector can file suit against you in court.

Note: The date of last activity starts from the time that you were late or the late payment went into collection, not from the last time you made a payment on the account. Further, the SOL can also re-start from the time that you make any promise to repayor even acknowledgement that the debt is yours. So if you did either the statute may have been extended, as it were.

However, while you can no longer be sued on this debt, technically you do still owe the money. It's just that here is no practical way to get it from you. So let them you know that you er aware that they cannot sue. They just might give up contacting you.

Finally, while appears that the SOL has long expired, if it hasn't you still can be sued so either make some type of payment arrangements or put the money in someone else's name; even if you do work out re-payment arrangements they could still sue you so you should probably get the money out of your name either way.

Note:  Social Security is exempt, so a creditor cannot seize it. Your best protection is to have such funds direct deposited into your bank account.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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