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What You Need to Know About the Debt Statute of Limitations in Washington

So, you’ve got some old debts hanging over your head, and you’re wondering – can they still come after me for this? Well, the answer is: it depends. In Washington state, there are specific time limits on how long creditors have to sue you for unpaid debts. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. And trust us, understanding how this works is crucial if you’re dealing with debt collectors.

The Clock is Ticking

In Washington, the statute of limitations on most types of consumer debt is six years. This includes things like credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, and auto loans. So, if you defaulted on a credit card payment six years ago and haven’t made a payment since, that debt is likely time-barred. Meaning, the creditor can no longer sue you to collect on it.But here’s the thing – this six-year clock starts ticking from the date of your last payment or activity on the account. If you make a payment, even a small one, it can restart the clock. The same goes for acknowledging the debt in writing or agreeing to a payment plan. So, be careful about any interactions with old debts.

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Not All Debts Are Equal

While six years is the standard for most consumer debts in Washington, there are some exceptions. For example:

  • Oral agreements (verbal contracts) have a statute of limitations of just three years.
  • Judgments (debts that have already been through the court system) can be enforced for up to ten years, and this can be extended for another ten years if the creditor renews the judgment.
  • State tax debts have a statute of limitations of four years.
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It’s important to know exactly what type of debt you’re dealing with to understand your rights.

What Happens When the Statute of Limitations Expires?

So, let’s say the six-year statute of limitations on your credit card debt has passed. What does this mean for you? Well, a few things:

  1. The creditor or debt collector can no longer sue you to collect on the debt.
  2. If they do try to sue you, you can use the expired statute of limitations as a defense in court to have the case dismissed.
  3. However, the debt doesn’t just disappear. You still technically owe the money, and it can still show up on your credit report for up to seven years.
  4. Debt collectors can still contact you about the debt, but they can’t threaten legal action if the statute of limitations has expired.

Protecting Your Rights

If you’re being hounded by debt collectors over an old debt, it’s important to know your rights. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are prohibited from using unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices to collect a debt. This includes things like:

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  • Threatening legal action on a time-barred debt
  • Contacting you at odd hours or at your place of work
  • Using abusive or profane language
  • Misrepresenting the amount you owe

If a debt collector is violating the FDCPA, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or sue them in court.

Getting Help

Dealing with old debts and aggressive debt collectors can be stressful and overwhelming. If you’re not sure about the status of your debts or you need help communicating with creditors, consider reaching out to a reputable debt relief company or a consumer law attorney.At Delancey Street, we specialize in helping people find solutions to their debt problems. Our team of experts will work with you one-on-one to understand your unique situation and develop a plan to get you back on track. Whether it’s negotiating with creditors, exploring debt consolidation, or fighting back against illegal debt collection practices – we’ve got your back.

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Our team is available always to help you. Regardless of whether you need advice, or just want to run a scenario by us. We take pride in the fact our team loves working with our clients - and truly cares about their financial and mental wellbeing.

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