If the old debt was barred by the running of the statute of limitations, no -- it would not revive the debt. However, if not barred it may start the running of the statute of limitations anew. I believe you acted appropriately if you want to assert the statute of limitations as a defense to the creditor's claim if suit is filed.
Code of Civil Procedure section 360: "No acknowledgment or promise is sufficient evidence of a new or continuing contract, by which to take the case out of the operation of this title, unless the same is contained in some writing, signed by the party to be charged thereby, provided that any payment on account of principal or interest due on a promissory note made by the party to be charged shall be deemed a sufficient acknowledgment or promise of a continuing contract to stop, from time to time as any such payment is made, the running of the time within which an action may be commenced upon the principal sum or upon any installment of principal or interest due on such note, and to start the running of a new period of time, but no such payment of itself shall revive a cause of action once barred."
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Four years is the length of the statute. Any payments and the four years begins anew.
California Code of Civil Procedure § 337(1), statute of limitations for a written contract is four years.
Under § 339(1), oral contract is two year limit.
If you pay you toll the debt - meaning four years starts anew.
Attorney Daymude provided a comprehensive answer.
Generally, if the statute of limitations has not completely run, ANY payment (no matter how small) WILL re-set the clock all the way back the beginning. That is why collection agencies often ask for just a "little show of good faith" or some other BS to get a $5 payment.
If the debt is significant or you get sued on it, you should contact a local, competent collection defense attorney for assistance.
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