How long is the statute of limitations on credit card debt?

When facing financial challenges, a person may feel that it will take an eternity to get back into the black. If that person is struggling with credit card debt, however, financial relief may come much sooner. In Mississippi, sooner is a three-year statute of limitations against accounts and unwritten contracts that is codified in the state's statutory code.

Across the nation, the various states have adopted diverse statutes of limitation that directly or indirectly acknowledge credit card debt and how long creditors may legally bind debtors to delinquent payments. Amidst the varied laws and confusing determinations of what law should govern a particular agreement between a credit card company in one state and a debtor in another, many conflicts arise that make working through whether debt collection on a delinquent account is legally permissible an incredibly challenging task.

Even the debt collection organization ACA International has proposed a national seven year statute of limitation on credit card debt collections that would eliminate the difficult conflict of laws issues that creditors and debtors now face. Individual states have also faced problems with universally applying their own laws. For example, the federal courts in one state ruled completely opposite of each other in two cases with factually similar debtors and the same credit card company creditor.

All of the confusion surrounding when credit card debt may legally expire and what laws should apply for making that determination illustrate the need for information on an individual's legal obligations regarding incurred debt. For those individuals whose credit card debt has expired, there are options under collections and bankruptcy law that can help. For those whose debt is current and subject to collection, there are many other options for debt relief, as well as filing for bankruptcy.

Source: Fox Business, "Expiration Dates Fuzzy on old Card Debt," Fred O. Williams, March 25, 2013

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