Can a legal firm collect a credit card debt from 12 years ago?

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Can a legal firm collect a credit card debt from 12 years ago?

Asked on November 19, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A collection agency can attempt to collect on any legitimate debt at any time. However, depending on the timeframe involved, they may have lost the right to legal enforcement of their claim. Assuming they did not obtain a judgement within 3-10 years, in most states, they cannot get one awarded now. And without a judgement, they have no rights to garnish wages, lien property, etc. They can only ask you to pay (they cannot take any legal action against you).

If, however, they obtained a valid judgement (i.e. they filed for a judgment within the legal time limit), then they can try to enforce it until it expires. Such judgments are typically valid for 6-20 years, depending on the state.

Bottom line, you need to know if they have a judgement and, if they do, you need to know when it was obtained. You then need to check with your state to see how long such judgments are valid.


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