What to do if contacted by a collection attorney after 9 years?

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What to do if contacted by a collection attorney after 9 years?

I had an unpaid credit card from 2001 when I lived in NC. I got served papers today for the amount. The person I called was an attorney that told me I had to pay him $400 in damages and then they would start me on a payment plan. He also told me that he could garnish my wages and put a lien on my bank account if I didn’t pay him today. Can that happen? I thought the statute of limitations on credit stuff was 7 years? I live in PA now.

Asked on January 7, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The statute of limitations varies by state--there is no national statute of limitations, except for certain actions brought under federal law, which this would not. In North Carolina, for example, it would be only 3 years; in Pennsylvania, it is 4 years; in other states it could be much longer--for example, in Ohio, it's 15 years. So the length of time for the statute depends on which state the action is being brought in.  That, in turn, could turn on where the company which no owns the debt is based out of, and/or whether in the credit card agreement, it specified a certain state's law. You need to look at where you're being sued from--what court is listed in the papers?--to determine what the relevant statute  of limitations should be.


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