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What is my state's statute of limitations on debt collection?

Individual states have their own laws related to how long a creditor can sue you for debt.

Creditors and debt collectors may sue you for an old debt. However, if the debt has outlived its statute of limitations, you may be able to successfully avoid a lawsuit or defeat the creditor in court. The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time a creditor or debt collector has to sue you, which varies by your state and type of debt.

A debt will fall into 1 of 4 categories:

  • Written contract—A signed agreement that says you will pay the loan back your creditor.

  • Oral contract—A verbal agreement to pay back the loan to your creditor. Sometimes called a handshake agreement.

  • Promissory note—A written contract that includes the scheduled payments and interest on the loan. Mortgages are the most common example of a promissory note.

  • Open-ended accounts—You are able to repeatedly borrow from the creditor, while agreeing to make regular payments. Credit cards are a type of open-ended account.

If you've been sued for an old debt, check the statute of limitations on debt for your state. If the debt is older than the time listed in the table below, you can use this knowledge to your advantage in court.

Statute of limitations on debt collection
Written contractsOral contractsPromissory notesOpen-ended accounts
Alabama3 years6 years6 years3 years
Alaska3 years6 years3 years3 years
Arizona6 years3 years5 years3 years
Arkansas5 years3 years3 years5 years
California4 years2 years4 years4 years
Colorado6 years6 years6 years6 years
Connecticut6 years3 years6 years6 years
Delaware3 years3 years3 years3 years
DC3 years3 years3 years3 years
Florida5 years4 years5 years4 years
Georgia6 years4 years6 years6 years
Hawaii6 years6 years6 years6 years
Idaho5 years4 years5 years5 years
Illinois10 years5 years10 years10 years
Indiana10 years6 years10 years6 years
Iowa10 years5 years5 years10 years
Kansas3 years3 years3 years3 years
Kentucky15 years5 years15 years15 years
Louisiana10 years10 years5 years3 years
Maine6 years6 years6 years6 years
Maryland3 years3 years6 years3 years
Massachusetts6 years6 years6 years6 years
Michigan6 years6 years6 years6 years
Minnesota6 years6 years6 years6 years
Mississippi3 years3 years3 years3 years
Missouri5 years5 years5 years5 years
Montana8 years5 years8 years8 years
Nebraska4 years4 years4 years4 years
Nevada4 years4 years4 years4 years
New Hampshire3 years3 years3 years3 years
New Jersey6 years6 years6 years6 years
New Mexico4 years4 years4 years4 years
New York6 years6 years6 years6 years
North Carolina3 years3 years5 years3 years
North Dakota6 years6 years6 years6 years
Ohio6 years6 years6 years6 years
Oklahoma5 years3 years5 years5 years
Oregon6 years6 years6 years6 years
Pennsylvania4 years4 years4 years4 years
Rhode Island10 years10 years10 years10 years
South Carolina10 years10 years3 years3 years
South Dakota6 years3 years6 years6 years
Tennessee6 years6 years6 years6 years
Texas4 years4 years4 years4 years
Utah6 years4 years6 years4 years
Vermont5 years3 years6 years3 years
Virginia6 years6 years5 years6 years
Washington6 years3 years6 years6 years
West Virginia10 years10 years10 years10 years
Wisconsin6 years6 years10 years6 years
Wyoming10 years6 years10 years6 years

If you’re facing a lawsuit and are not sure what to do next, talk to a consumer protection lawyer or bankruptcy lawyer to advise you on the best course of action for your case.

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