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I stopped paying on a credit card debt in 2006, due to a lost job. The creditors attorney just called to tell me they are

Mission Viejo, CA |

Opening a civil suit against me.
Is this legal, doesn't the statue of limitations prevent them from pursuing?

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Attorney answers 4


If the statute of limitations (SOL) has expired on a credit card debt that was used primarily for personal, family or household purposes, then it is covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The mere threat of suing a consumer on a consumer debt after the time to sue has expired would be a violation of the FDCPA. Suing is also a violation of the FDCPA, if the consumer debt SOL has expired. You would be able to recover your damages and any attorney's fees, so it would be best for you to retain experienced debt collection DEFENSE counsel, because there are many technical issues that occur in Superior Court that people routinely do not know and are unable to follow, even if they are informed.

In addition, I doubt that an attorney actually called you and threatened to sue you. More likely, a debt collector called you. To misrepresent that a regular collection agent is an attorney is a separate violation of the FDCPA, which again would entitle you to sue for harassment and recover your actual damages and attorney's fees, if this person misrepresented themselves. Contact experienced consumer counsel promptly as there are time limits for the consumer to sue, in particular one year from the date of the harassment.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
Twitter: @RStempler

NOTICE: The above statements are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended as legal advice or advice of any sort for a specific case or legal matter. If you do not have a signed attorney-client fee agreement with the Consumer Law Office of Robert Stempler, APC ("the Firm"), then until such written fee agreement is provided and signed by both a prospective client and attorney for a particular case, neither Mr. Stempler nor the Firm will represent you nor will they be your attorney in any matter and you remain responsible for retaining your own attorney and for compliance with any and all deadlines and for any statutes of limitations that may pertain to potential claims. Comments made on a public forum, such as, to not have any confidentiality because others may read them. If you desire a private consultation with Mr. Stempler that is confidential, please go to and submit a free eCase Review. The result portrayed for a client was dependent on the facts of that case. Results will differ if based on different facts. The Firm and Mr. Stempler are a debt relief agency. The Firm and Mr. Stempler help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Christopher John Gansen

Christopher John Gansen


This is all great advice, Mr. Stempler has basically nailed it. Give him a call!


Anyone can sue anyone for anything. It is then incumbent upon you to assert the appropriate defenses such as the statute of limitations and defend the case. If they are collecting a time barred debt they are possibly in violation of the FDCPA. Hire a local lawyer for assistance. Good luck.


The Statute of Limitations does not prevent them from filing a lawsuit. The SOL is an affirmative defense that you can allege in your Answer, along with many other defenses.
You really should consult a lawyer now. You do not understand what is going on. I doubt that it is a representative of the credit card company. The account was probably sold to a debt buyer. I also doubt that the caller was a lawyer. You also do not mention the geographic location of the caller.

From what you say, you may very well have a viable lawsuit against the debt collector for several violations of the federal and the Calif. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If so, you can recover a statutory penalty of up to $1,000 per violation, plus damages, plus your attorney's fees.


Depending on the facts the statute of limitations could be a very good defense.

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