Is there a statute of limitations on collectingold debts?

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Is there a statute of limitations on collectingold debts?

My husband has been receiving calls regarding an old phone bill (11 years old) and an old jewelry store bill (19 years old). They have told him they never received payment on these charges and that he needs to pay or show proof that he paid them already. We don’t have records that date back that far as we shred info after the 7 years that we are required to keep such documents. It is my understanding that they also don’t have to keep info for more than 7 years. So how can they say that he still owes and expect payment? What is our recourse on this?

Asked on July 23, 2011 Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In TX, a creditor can sue on these type debts for up to 4 years. This time period is known as the "statute of limitations" (SOL). So the time to sue over these claims is long past. However, did either of these creditors obtain a judgment? If they did, judgments in TX are good for up to 10 years (and they are renewable for another 10). Check your credit report, typically any judgments would be noted on it.

Bottom line, since the SOL has expired and if no judgements were granted (or at least obtained but not renewed), your husband is in a good position. The fact is that even if he didn't pay the money, his creditors have no legal remedy to collect. You may have to put up with some annoying calls but once he makes the creditors aware that he knows his rights under the law, they may well just give up and move on to "greener" pastures.

Note: If the calls continue and become harassing, you have rights under federal, and possibly state, law. You can contact your state's attorney general's office or department of consumer affairs for assistsnce.


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