Sometimes folks get a bill from a debt collector for a debt that is years and years old – so old it is considered Zombie debt! In fact, you may not even remember incurring the debt.
If you have old debts, collectors may not be able to sue you to collect on them. This is because debt collectors have a limited number of years – known as the statute of limitations – to sue you to collect. After that, unpaid debts are considered “time barred.”
The limitations varies from state to state, but in Virginia it is usually 3 years for an oral contract and 5 years for a written contract. But beware, the statute of limitations is an “affirmative defense” if a creditor sues you in court. This means if a lawsuit is filed on old debt, you must show up and raise the defense that the debt is too old. The judge will not do that for you if you fail to show up to court.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act bars creditors from collecting on debts that are beyond the statute of limitations. But many tricky collectors are trying to get around that law by reviving old debt and tricking you into waving the statute of limitations. If you voluntarily make a payment on a debt, then the 3-5 year limitation period starts ALL OVER AGAIN. As such, if you think a debt collector is trying to collect on an old debt – DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY. Consult with an attorney on whether the statute of limitations applies to your particular debt and situation.
The article linked discusses the tricky ways some debt collector are trying to revive old debts. https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/zombie-debt-how-collecto…/…
Here at Giles & Lambert, we would encourage you to contact us for a free bankruptcy consultation if you are struggling with debt, new or old. In the event most or all of your debt is old, sometimes filing bankruptcy makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t. Call today to meet with one of our attorneys for a free bankruptcy consultation or advice about whether a debt collector is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.