Old Credit Card Debt and the Statute of Limitations

Old Credit Card Debt and the Statute of Limitations

It can seem like old credit card debt never goes away and never dies.  Many firms purchase old credit card debt from banks and then take action to collect whatever possible from the account holder.  Typically, the collection process starts with a letter and several telephone calls.  During such collection calls the account holder is invariably prevailed upon to make some sort of payment towards the account.  The process can end up with legal action being filed against the account holder.

Many older credit card obligations may be uncollectible under Pennsylvania law.  The Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations for credit card debt is four (4) years.  This means that unless legal action is filed within four years from the date of the breach of the credit card account contract, then a court likely will dismiss any legal action due to the case having been filed too late.

As is typical with the legal system, things are not always so cut and dry.  If a credit card account holder makes a payment towards the past due account, then that payment restarts the four year time period under the Statute of Limitations.  The desire of the account holder to do the right thing or improve his or her credit can actually hurt his/her case.

The Statute of Limitations is what is classified by the law as an affirmative defense, which means that the defense must be raised by the Defendant in a court case, or that defense is waived.  The applicability of the Statute of Limitations is just one of several issues that can impact your liability for credit card debt.  If, during a collection call, a customer relations representative attempts to cajole you into making payment on an old account, then it is best to stop and consider the relevant time frames before making that payment.  If legal action is filed against you, then please consult an attorney whose practice includes civil litigation.  

What this means for you:  If you have questions about debt collection or legal actions filed against you or potentially to be filed against you, we can help you. Make Pyfer Reese your choice. Call 717.299.7342 to schedule a consultation with Albert J. Meier.

~Albert J. Meier, Esquire


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