How is the Statute of Limitations Determined When Dealing with Debt Collectors?
Under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations on contractual debt such as credit card debt is six years. This is typically measured from the date that a consumer defaults on their payments. The law governing this is Chapter 260, Section 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
The statute of limitations comes into effect in two ways: before a debt collection lawsuit is filed, and after the lawsuit is filed. In the former situation, the debt collector typically sends dunning letters and making collection calls, but has not filed a lawsuit.
But if the statute of limitations has run out — for example, if your last payment was over six years ago and you did nothing to revive it in the meantime — then a debt collector may have violated both Massachusetts law and federal law. The applicable Massachusetts law is the Consumer Protection Act, called Chapter 93A. The applicable federal law is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
So if you don’t know when the last payment was made, how do you find out when it was? There are usually two ways to determine this. First, if you are served with a lawsuit, the court documents will often state the date of the last payment. And second, this is usually listed on your credit reports, which you can obtain for free at annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228.
If you believe a debt collector has filed a lawsuit past the statute of limitations, it is imperative that you assert your rights quickly because you usually only have 20 days to respond to a lawsuit before the debt collector can get a judgment against you by default, without having to provide any evidence. Our office can provide a free case evaluation to determine whether we may be able to assist you.
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Culik Law is a Massachusetts Law Firm. The posts on Culik Law’s blog are not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, CONTACT CULIK LAW for a Free Consultation.