As a consumer, you should be aware that the law establishes a time limit for the collection of outstanding financial obligation. This is known as the statute of limitations, and as outlined in a prior post, it is set at six years in Ohio. After that time has elapsed, a creditor may not be able to legally compel you to repay the debt.
Even though a creditor is no longer allowed to force you to pay, it is still permitted to seek repayment. This means it may continue to make contact attempts aimed at securing some or all of what may be owed. Federal law forbids creditors from threatening litigation once the debt has passed the statute of limitations, though.
If you receive a call or letter attempting to recover a debt that has expired, think carefully about your response. You might end up resetting the statutory clock if you make only a partial payment. If that happens, the creditor may be able to sue you for the full amount, depending on state law. Even making a verbal promise to pay could open the door for a lawsuit. Not satisfying the debt could harm your credit for a certain amount of time, but it may prove to be the most viable option.
It is possible temporarily to stop further collection attempts by asking the creditor for verification of the amount you allegedly owe. This does not reset the statute of limitations. Alternatively, you could end contact permanently by telling the creditor you no longer wish to be reached about the debt.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice.
Source: United States Federal Trade Commission: “Time-Barred Debts,” accessed May 25, 2016