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Time-barred debt

Oakland, CA |

I was served over a year ago by a collection agency. They never pursued a default judgement until now. Now, they are requesting the court grant them another 60 days to come after me since it apparently took them over a year of 'diligent' work to get everything they needed against me. This is for an unpaid credit card, where the last time I made a payment on was over 4 years ago. So, is this time-barred since the statute of limitations in California is 4 years? Or does that make a difference? Also, since they took over a year to even go after a default judgment after serving me, and are requesting an OSC only now, can they legally do this? Will I ultimately lose here? Any advice would be great. Thank you.

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Attorney answers 3


When the lawsuit was filed, was it within the limitations period of your credit card? If so, then the lawsuit was timely, per the date of filing not the current date. Once a plaintiff files a lawsuit, if they filed it timely, then the statute of limitations does not become an issue later in the case.

The statute of limitations may be shorter, depending on the state law that the credit card agreement adopts, such as Delaware or Virginia, which are considered only three years. I advise people to get their own lawyer who has experience or makes it their primary practice to represent consumers in debt collection lawsuits, so they don't overlook technicalities.

If you were served, but failed to file an answer in court or hire a lawyer to do that for you, your defenses are waived, unless a motion to set aside default is granted and the response allowed to be filed by the court order. This must be done right away, before you lose your right to defend the case.

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.


Mr. Stempler is correct. The statute of limitation is tolled when a law suit is filed. You should review your debts to see what is the appropriate steps you should take. If your debts are manageable contact the lawyers to make payment arrangements. If not, consider Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. If you can make payment arrangements be sure to include a provision that when the debt is paid in full the lawsuit will be dismissed with prejudice.


You've received to very good answers from attorneys Stempler and Adams. I'll add that if the Statute of Limitations has not run (before they filed the lawsuit against you), then you need to somehow handle this. One way to handle it would be to file bankruptcy. The way to find out if that's a good option for you is to get a consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your local area.

This reply does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship.

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