Can another company buy and collect on a debt that is 17 yrs old?

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Can another company buy and collect on a debt that is 17 yrs old?

I had a judgment from 1993 that was settled in 1996 when we bought our house. I now have received a notice for Garnishment from a different company about this old judgement. When I went to the court house to get a copy of the paid judgment the area that said paid is crossed out and now says partial payment. What can I do?

Asked on November 8, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, South Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, South Dakota has one of the longest statutes of limitations--or time periods to bring a legal action--for enforcing a debt in the United States: it's 20 years. That means that a judgment in 1993 could be enforced until 2013.

So in answer to your primary question, a company could buy and look to enforce a 17-year-old South Dakota debt. The key issue will be whether there is still anything to enforce. If it was not paid in full, they could look to collect on the balance; if it was paid in full, then they cannot collect anything else. What will be critical will be whether you can provide evidence that the debt was paid in full; if you can, you would have a very good defense, though if you've received a notice of garnishment, you'll have to go to court to fight it. You should probably engage an attorney to help you, unless it's such a small amount that it's the better course of valor to pay it.


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