Your State-by-State Guide to Statute of Limitations on Debt

Did you know that if certain unpaid debt hits a certain age, debt collectors can no longer sue you for repayment? That, my friends, is called the statute of limitations on debt. However, the terms of these laws vary state-by-state and even by types of debt. Here's everything you need to know about what each state's statute of limitations covers, including what the statute of limitations on debt collection is throughout the U.S. What is the statute of limitations on debt? The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) defines the statute of limitations on debt as, “The limited period of time creditors or debt collectors have to file a lawsuit to recover debt.” So if you’ve gone delinquent on certain types of debt and the statute of limitations on that debt runs out, then a judgment brought against you in court shouldn’t be upheld. You do, however, have to defend yourself in court if a collector tries to sue you for that debt. When the statute of limitations on your debt runs out, it becomes what’s called “time-barred debt.” Therefore, if your debt collector is trying to collect on time-barred debt, you can use these sample letters from the CFPB to write a letter asking them to stop. 3 major statute of limitations on debt caveats 1. Time-barred debt doesn’t mean you’ll get left alone Although your debt might be covered under the statute of limitations, that doesn’t mean debt collectors have to stop contacting you. They just can’t necessarily successfully sue you to collect anymore. However, that debt is in your name and collectors can try to get you to repay. In short, debt never goes away just because the collector can’t sue you for it. Essentially, "the statute of limitations only bars the creditor from suing you - it doesn’t wipe away the loan," according to US News & World Report. If you end up getting brought to court on a time-barred debt, then you can use the statute of limitations law to protect you. 2. It’s easy to accidentally restart the clock Anytime you make a payment on a past-due debt, you risk restarting the clock on the statute of limitations. Even if you were just months away from your debt becoming time-barred, one payment can bounce you right back to the beginning. “Say you stop paying your private student loan in 2010 in a state with a six-year statute of limitations on such debts," writes the US News & World Report. "The clock starts ticking on the six-year limit in 2010 when you stop paying. If, however, you make a payment in 2013, the statute of limitations period may start again and not end until 2019.” 3. Federal student loans don’t fall under the statute of limitations on debt Unfortunately, federal student loans don’t fall under the statute of limitations on debt. That means, if you have federal student loans, there’s never a time after which collectors are unable to sue you to collect. Private student loans can sometimes be covered under the statute of limitations. However, for some states, private student loans might take longer to become time-barred debt. That’s because you have to sign a promissory note to get your student loans. And, depending on the state, those promissory notes could mean a longer time period before the statute of limitations on debt expires. Oral contracts vs. written contracts Every state is different when it comes to what their statute of limitations on debt covers, especially when it comes to language they use to describe different types of debt. But two main categories are oral contracts and written contracts. Oral contracts (also know as open-ended accounts or contracts not in writing) are just what they sound like. For example, a verbal agreement between you and another person to loan money and pay it back. However, what you’re most likely going to use this for is credit card debt. Credit cards are open-ended agreements and don’t fall into the written contracts category. That said, there are a handful of states that break this rule. So it’s possible your credit card falls under the timeline for written contracts in your state. On the other hand, written contracts refer to agreements for which you sign paperwork. These are closed contracts. In terms of finances, they are usually loans. After all, a loan isn’t revolving debt. If you wanted more money on a loan, you couldn’t increase it. You would have to take out another loan. It’s important to note one thing about written contracts. If they’ve been signed under seal, then that creates a whole separate category. Written contracts under seal almost always take longer to become time-barred debt, just like promissory notes. Statute of limitations on debt collection by state Alabama Oral contracts: 3 years (Alabama Code § 6.2.37) Written contracts: 6 years (Alabama Code § 6.2.34) Alaska Oral contracts: 3 years (Alaska Statute § 09.10.053) Written contracts: 3 years (Alaska Statute § 09.10.053) Arizona Oral contracts: 3 years (A.R.S. § 12-543) Written contracts: 6 years (A.R.S. § 12-548) Credit card debt: 6 years * *While credit cards are open accounts and thus don’t fall under laws governing written contracts, Arizona passed a law in 2011 lengthening the statute of limitations on them to six years. Arkansas Oral contracts: 3 years (Ark. Code Ann. § 4-3-118 - Justia) Written contracts: 5 years (Ark. Code Ann. § 4-3-118 - Justia) California Oral contracts: 2 years (California Code of Civil Procedure § 339) Written contracts: 4 years (California Code of Civil Procedure § 337) Colorado Oral contracts: 6 years (C.R.S. 13-80-103.5 Lexis Nexis) Written contracts: 6 years (C.R.S. 13-80-103.5 Lexis Nexis) Connecticut Oral contracts: 3 years (Connecticut General Statute § 52-581) Written contracts: 6 years (Connecticut General Statute § 52-576) Delaware Oral contracts: 3 years (Delaware Code § 10-8106) Written contracts: 3 years (Delaware Code § 10-8106) Florida Oral contracts: 4 years (Florida Statute § 95.11) Written contracts: 5 years (Florida Statute § 95.11) Georgia Oral contracts: 4 years (Georgia Code § 9-3-25) Written contracts: 6 years (Georgia Code § 9-3-24) Hawaii Oral contracts: 6 years (Hawaii Revised Statute § 657-1) Written contracts: 6 years (Hawaii Revised Statute § 657-1) Idaho Oral contracts: 4 years (Idaho Code § 5-217) Written contracts: 5 years (Idaho Code § 5-216) Illinois Oral contracts: 5 years (735 ILCS 5/13-205) Written contracts: 10 years (735 ILCS 5/13-206) Indiana Oral contracts: 6 years (Indiana Code § 34-11-2-7) Written contracts: 6 years or 10 years* (Indiana Code § 34-11-2-9) *Written contracts executed between September 19, 1881, and September 1, 1982, are time-barred after ten years. Whereas written contracts executed after September 1, 1982, are time-barred after six years. Iowa Oral contracts: 5 years (Iowa Code § 614.1-4) Written contracts: 10 years (Iowa Code § 614.1-5) Kansas Oral contracts: 3 years (Kansas Statute § 60-512) Written contracts: 5 years (Kansas Statute § 60-511) Kentucky Oral contracts: 5 years (Kentucky Revised Statute § 413.120) Written contracts: 10 years or 15 years* (Kentucky Revised Statute § 413.090) *Written contracts executed after July 15, 2014, are time-barred after ten years. However, written contracts executed on or before July 15, 2014, are time-barred after fifteen years. Louisiana Oral contracts: 3 years (Louisiana Civil Code §3494-2) Written contracts: 10 years (Louisiana Civil Code § 3501) Maine Oral contracts: 6 years (Maine Revised Statute § 14-752) Written contracts: 6 years (Maine Revised Statute § 14-752) Maryland Oral contracts: 3 years (Code of Maryland §5–101) Written contracts: 3 years (Code of Maryland §5–101) Massachusetts Oral contracts: 6 years (Massachusetts Legislature § 260-2) Written contracts: 6 years (Massachusetts Legislature § 260-2) Michigan Oral contracts: 6 years (Michigan Legislature § 600.5807) Written contracts: 6 years (Michigan Legislature § 600.5807) Minnesota Oral contracts: 6 years (Minnesota Statutes § 541.05) Written contracts: 6 years (Minnesota Statutes § 541.05) Mississippi Oral contracts: 3 years (Mississippi Code § 15-1-29) Written contracts: 3 years (Mississippi Code § 15-1-29) Missouri Oral contracts: 5 years (Missouri Revised Statute § 516.120) Written contracts: 10 years (Missouri Revised Statute § 516.110) Montana Oral contracts: 5 years (Montana Code § 27-2-202) Written contracts: 8 years (Montana Code § 27-2-202) Nebraska Oral contracts: 4 years (Nebraska Revised Statute § 25-206) Written contracts: 5 years (Nebraska Revised Statute § 25-205) Nevada Oral contracts: 4 years (Nevada Revised Statute § 11.190) Written contracts: 6 years (Nevada Revised Statute § 11.190) New Hampshire Oral contracts: 3 years (New Hampshire Revised Statute § 382-A:3-118) Written contracts: 3 years (New Hampshire Revised Statute § 382-A:3-118) New Jersey Oral contracts: 6 years (New Jersey Statute § 2A:14-1) Written contracts: 6 years (New Jersey Statute § 2A:14-1) New Mexico Oral contracts: 4 years (New Mexico Statute § 37-1-4 - Justia) Written contracts: 6 years (New Mexico Statute § 37-1-3 - Justia) New York Open contracts: 6 years (New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules § 213) Written contracts: 6 years (New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules § 213) North Carolina Oral contracts: 3 years (North Carolina General Statute § 1-52) Written contracts: 3 years (North Carolina General Statute § 1-52) North Dakota Oral contracts: 6 years (North Dakota Century Code § 28-01-16) Written contracts: 6 years (North Dakota Century Code § 28-01-16) Ohio Oral contracts: 6 years (Ohio Revised Code § 2305.07) Written contracts: 8 years (Ohio Revised Code § 2306.06) Oklahoma Oral contracts: 3 years (O.S. §, 12-3-95) Written contracts: 5 years (O.S. §, 12-3-95) Oregon Oral contracts: 6 years (Oregon Revised Statute § 12.080) Written contracts: 6 years (Oregon Revised Statute § 12.080) Pennsylvania Oral contracts: 4 years (Pennsylvania Statute § 42-5525) Written contracts: 4 years (Pennsylvania Statute § 42-5525) Rhode Island Oral contracts: 10 years (Rhode Island General Laws § 9-1-13) Written contracts: 10 years (Rhode Island General Laws § 9-1-13) South Carolina Oral contracts: 3 years (South Carolina Code of Laws § 15-3-530) Written contracts: 3 years (South Carolina Code of Laws § 15-3-530) South Dakota Oral contracts: 6 years (South Dakota Codified Laws § 15-2-13) Written contracts: 6 years (South Dakota Codified Laws § 15-2-13) Tennessee Oral contracts: 6 years (Tennessee Code § 28-3-109) Written contracts: 6 years (Tennessee Code § 28-3-109) Texas Oral contracts: 4 years (Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.004) Written contracts: 4 years (Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.004) Utah Oral contracts: 4 years (Utah Code § 78B-2-307) Written contracts: 6 years (Utah Code § 78B-2-309) Vermont Oral contracts: 6 years (12 V.S.A. § 511) Written contracts: 6 years (12 V.S.A. § 511) Virginia Oral contracts: 3 years (Virginia Code § 8.01-246) Written contracts: 5 years (Virginia Code § 8.01-246) Washington Oral contracts: 3 years (Washington Revised Code § 4.16.080) Written contracts: 6 years (Washington Revised Code § 4.16.040) West Virginia Oral contracts: 5 years (West Virginia Code § 55-2-6) Written contracts: 10 years (West Virginia Code § 55-2-6) Wisconsin Oral contracts: 6 years (Wisconsin Statute § 893.43) Written contracts: 6 years (Wisconsin Statute § 893.43) Wyoming Oral contracts: 8 years (Wyoming Statute § 1-3-105) Written contracts: 10 years (Wyoming Statute § 1-3-105) [table id=5]

Did you know that if certain unpaid debt hits a certain age, debt collectors can no longer sue you for repayment? That, my friends, is called the statute of limitations on debt.

However, the terms of these laws vary state-by-state and by types of debt. Here’s everything you need to know about what each state’s statute of limitations covers, including what the statute of limitations on debt collection is throughout the U.S.

What is the statute of limitations on debt?

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) defines the statute of limitations on debt as: “The limited period of time creditors or debt collectors have to file a lawsuit to recover debt.”

If you’ve gone delinquent on certain types of debt and the statute of limitations on that debt runs out, a judgment brought against you in court shouldn’t be upheld. You do, however, have to defend yourself in court if a collector tries to sue you for that debt.

When the statute of limitations on your debt runs out, it becomes what’s called “time-barred debt.” Therefore, if your debt collector is trying to collect on a time-barred debt, you can use these sample letters from the CFPB to write a letter asking them to stop.

Three major statutes of limitations on debt warnings

1. Time-barred debt doesn’t mean you’ll be left alone

Although your debt might be covered under the statute of limitations, that doesn’t mean debt collectors have to stop contacting you. They just can’t necessarily successfully sue you to collect anymore. However, that debt is in your name and collectors can try to get you to repay.

In short, debt never goes away just because the collector can’t sue you for it. Essentially, “the statute of limitations only bars the creditor from suing you – it doesn’t wipe away the loan,” according to US News & World Report.

If you end up getting brought to court on a time-barred debt, then you can use the statute of limitations law to protect you.

2. It’s easy to accidentally restart the clock

Anytime you make a payment on a past-due debt, you risk restarting the clock on the statute of limitations.

Even if you were just months away from your debt becoming time-barred, one payment can bounce you right back to the beginning.

“Say you stop paying your private student loan in 2010 in a state with a six-year statute of limitations on such debts,” the US News & World Report explained. “The clock starts ticking on the six-year limit in 2010 when you stop paying. If, however, you make a payment in 2013, the statute of limitations period may start again and not end until 2019.”

3. Federal student loans don’t fall under the statute of limitations on debt

Unfortunately, federal student loans don’t fall under the statute of limitations on debt. If you have federal student loans, there’s never a time after which collectors are unable to sue you to collect.

Private student loans can sometimes be covered under the statute of limitations. However, for some states, private student loans might take longer to become time-barred debt.

That’s because you have to sign a promissory note to get your student loans. And, depending on the state, those promissory notes could mean a longer time period before the statute of limitations on debt expires.

Oral contracts vs. written contracts

Every state is different when it comes to what their statute of limitations on debt covers, especially when it comes to the language they use to describe different types of debt. But two main categories are oral contracts and written contracts.

Oral contracts (also know as open-ended accounts or contracts not in writing) are just what they sound like. For example, a verbal agreement between you and another person to loan money and pay it back.

However, what you’re most likely going to use this for is credit card debt. Credit cards are open-ended agreements and don’t fall into the written contracts category.

That said, there are a handful of states that break this rule. So it’s possible your credit card falls under the timeline for written contracts in your state.

On the other hand, written contracts refer to agreements for which you sign paperwork. These are closed contracts. In terms of finances, they are usually loans.

After all, a loan isn’t revolving debt. If you wanted more money on a loan, you couldn’t increase it. You would have to take out another loan.

It’s important to note one thing about written contracts. If they’ve been signed under seal, then that creates a whole separate category. Written contracts under seal almost always take longer to become time-barred debt, just like promissory notes.

State-by-state statute of limitations on debt collection

Alabama

Oral contracts: 3 years (Alabama Code § 6.2.37)

Written contracts: 6 years (Alabama Code § 6.2.34)

Alaska

Oral contracts: 3 years (Alaska Statute § 09.10.053)

Written contracts: 3 years (Alaska Statute § 09.10.053)

Arizona

Oral contracts: 3 years (A.R.S. § 12-543)

Written contracts: 6 years (A.R.S. § 12-548)

Credit card debt: 6 years *

*While credit cards are open accounts and thus don’t fall under laws governing written contracts, Arizona passed a law in 2011 lengthening the statute of limitations on them to six years.

Arkansas

Oral contracts: 3 years (Ark. Code Ann. § 4-3-118 – Justia)

Written contracts: 5 years (Ark. Code Ann. § 4-3-118 – Justia)

California

Oral contracts: 2 years (California Code of Civil Procedure § 339)

Written contracts: 4 years (California Code of Civil Procedure § 337)

Colorado

Oral contracts: 6 years (C.R.S. 13-80-103.5 Lexis Nexis)

Written contracts: 6 years (C.R.S. 13-80-103.5 Lexis Nexis)

Connecticut

Oral contracts: 3 years (Connecticut General Statute § 52-581)

Written contracts: 6 years (Connecticut General Statute § 52-576)

Delaware

Oral contracts: 3 years (Delaware Code § 10-8106)

Written contracts: 3 years (Delaware Code § 10-8106)

Florida

Oral contracts: 4 years (Florida Statute § 95.11)

Written contracts: 5 years (Florida Statute § 95.11)

Georgia

Oral contracts: 4 years (Georgia Code § 9-3-25)

Written contracts: 6 years (Georgia Code § 9-3-24)

Hawaii

Oral contracts: 6 years (Hawaii Revised Statute § 657-1)

Written contracts: 6 years (Hawaii Revised Statute § 657-1)

Idaho

Oral contracts: 4 years (Idaho Code § 5-217)

Written contracts: 5 years (Idaho Code § 5-216)

Illinois

Oral contracts: 5 years (735 ILCS 5/13-205)

Written contracts: 10 years (735 ILCS 5/13-206)

Indiana

Oral contracts: 6 years (Indiana Code § 34-11-2-7)

Written contracts: 6 years or 10 years* (Indiana Code § 34-11-2-9)

*Written contracts executed between September 19, 1881, and September 1, 1982, are time-barred after ten years. Whereas written contracts executed after September 1, 1982, are time-barred after six years.

Iowa

Oral contracts: 5 years (Iowa Code § 614.1-4)

Written contracts: 10 years (Iowa Code § 614.1-5)

Kansas

Oral contracts: 3 years (Kansas Statute § 60-512)

Written contracts: 5 years (Kansas Statute § 60-511)

Kentucky

Oral contracts: 5 years (Kentucky Revised Statute § 413.120)

Written contracts: 10 years or 15 years* (Kentucky Revised Statute § 413.090)

*Written contracts executed after July 15, 2014, are time-barred after ten years. However, written contracts executed on or before July 15, 2014, are time-barred after fifteen years.

Louisiana

Oral contracts: 3 years (Louisiana Civil Code §3494-2)

Written contracts: 10 years (Louisiana Civil Code § 3501)

Maine

Oral contracts: 6 years (Maine Revised Statute § 14-752)

Written contracts: 6 years (Maine Revised Statute § 14-752)

Maryland

Oral contracts: 3 years (Code of Maryland §5–101)

Written contracts: 3 years (Code of Maryland §5–101)

Massachusetts

Oral contracts: 6 years (Massachusetts Legislature § 260-2)

Written contracts: 6 years (Massachusetts Legislature § 260-2)

Michigan

Oral contracts: 6 years (Michigan Legislature § 600.5807)

Written contracts: 6 years (Michigan Legislature § 600.5807)

Minnesota

Oral contracts: 6 years (Minnesota Statutes § 541.05)

Written contracts: 6 years (Minnesota Statutes § 541.05)

Mississippi

Oral contracts: 3 years (Mississippi Code § 15-1-29)

Written contracts: 3 years (Mississippi Code § 15-1-29)

Missouri

Oral contracts: 5 years (Missouri Revised Statute § 516.120)

Written contracts: 10 years (Missouri Revised Statute § 516.110)

Montana

Oral contracts: 5 years (Montana Code § 27-2-202)

Written contracts: 8 years (Montana Code § 27-2-202)

Nebraska

Oral contracts: 4 years (Nebraska Revised Statute § 25-206)

Written contracts: 5 years (Nebraska Revised Statute § 25-205)

Nevada

Oral contracts: 4 years (Nevada Revised Statute § 11.190)

Written contracts: 6 years (Nevada Revised Statute § 11.190)

New Hampshire

Oral contracts: 3 years (New Hampshire Revised Statute § 382-A:3-118)

Written contracts: 3 years (New Hampshire Revised Statute § 382-A:3-118)

New Jersey

Oral contracts: 6 years (New Jersey Statute § 2A:14-1)

Written contracts: 6 years (New Jersey Statute § 2A:14-1)

New Mexico

Oral contracts: 4 years (New Mexico Statute § 37-1-4 – Justia)

Written contracts: 6 years (New Mexico Statute § 37-1-3 – Justia)

New York

Open contracts: 6 years  (New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules § 213)

Written contracts: 6 years (New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules § 213)

North Carolina

Oral contracts: 3 years (North Carolina General Statute § 1-52)

Written contracts: 3 years (North Carolina General Statute § 1-52)

North Dakota

Oral contracts: 6 years (North Dakota Century Code § 28-01-16)

Written contracts: 6 years (North Dakota Century Code § 28-01-16)

Ohio

Oral contracts: 6 years (Ohio Revised Code § 2305.07)

Written contracts: 8 years (Ohio Revised Code § 2306.06)

Oklahoma

Oral contracts: 3 years (O.S. §, 12-3-95)

Written contracts: 5 years (O.S. §, 12-3-95)

Oregon

Oral contracts: 6 years (Oregon Revised Statute § 12.080)

Written contracts: 6 years (Oregon Revised Statute § 12.080)

Pennsylvania

Oral contracts: 4 years (Pennsylvania Statute § 42-5525)

Written contracts: 4 years (Pennsylvania Statute § 42-5525)

Rhode Island

Oral contracts: 10 years (Rhode Island General Laws § 9-1-13)

Written contracts: 10 years (Rhode Island General Laws § 9-1-13)

South Carolina

Oral contracts: 3 years (South Carolina Code of Laws § 15-3-530)

Written contracts: 3 years (South Carolina Code of Laws § 15-3-530)

South Dakota

Oral contracts: 6 years (South Dakota Codified Laws § 15-2-13)

Written contracts: 6 years (South Dakota Codified Laws § 15-2-13)

Tennessee

Oral contracts: 6 years (Tennessee Code § 28-3-109)

Written contracts: 6 years (Tennessee Code § 28-3-109)

Texas

Oral contracts: 4 years (Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.004)

Written contracts: 4 years (Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.004)

Utah

Oral contracts: 4 years (Utah Code § 78B-2-307)

Written contracts: 6 years (Utah Code § 78B-2-309)

Vermont

Oral contracts: 6 years (12 V.S.A. § 511)

Written contracts: 6 years (12 V.S.A. § 511)

Virginia

Oral contracts: 3 years (Virginia Code § 8.01-246)

Written contracts: 5 years (Virginia Code § 8.01-246)

Washington

Oral contracts: 3 years (Washington Revised Code § 4.16.080)

Written contracts: 6 years (Washington Revised Code § 4.16.040)

West Virginia

Oral contracts: 5 years (West Virginia Code § 55-2-6)

Written contracts: 10 years (West Virginia Code § 55-2-6)

Wisconsin

Oral contracts: 6 years (Wisconsin Statute § 893.43)

Written contracts: 6 years (Wisconsin Statute § 893.43)

Wyoming

Oral contracts: 8 years (Wyoming Statute § 1-3-105)

Written contracts: 10 years (Wyoming Statute § 1-3-105)

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