How long can a company try to collect on a mortgage debt?

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How long can a company try to collect on a mortgage debt?

I purchased a single family home 12 years ago and lost it 4 years later for non-payment and taxes. It has been on my credit report all these years until last year when it was removed. Now I’m getting calls from 1 of the collection agencies that the debt was sold to. If it is no longer on my credit report, can they still try to collect?

Asked on January 17, 2017 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, the time that a negative notation stays on a credit report is seperate and apart from the time in which a creditor has to collect on a debt. In other words, one has nothing to do with the other. That having been said, there is a limit on the time in which a creditor can collect. This is known as the "statute of limitations" and it varies from state-to-state and depends on the type of obligation involved (for example, a credit card debt versus a defaulted mortgage). Typically, you must sue on a defauted mortgage up to 10 years (you can check online for the exact time period in your jurisdiction). This means that a creditor has up to that time to go to court and sue you to obtain a judgement. Once a judgment is awarded, the creditor can sieze assets, levy bank accounts and garnish wages, at least for the time that the judgment is good for (in many states up to 20 years). However, even if a creditor does not obtain a judgment or the time to get one or collect on it has expired, technically you still owe the money. This means that they can attempt to get payment from you but that without a valid judgment there's legally not much that they can do other than call and/or write and make a request payment (i.e. they cannot take money from your bank account, etc.).


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