While some may think a statute of limitations may be their way out of paying off a past due debt, they may not realize what these laws refer to.
The statute of limitations on debt collection only refers to the length of time a creditor has to file a lawsuit against the consumer in an effort to seek legal recovery. If they file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run, the debtor may successfully defend against it on the basis that the statute of limitations has run.
In Illinois, debt collectors have five years to file suit on an open account or unwritten contract and up to 10 years on a written contract. It is important to note, however, if you pay anything during that period, even a small payment on an old debt at any time, that act will restart (or “toll”) the statute of limitations. This reopens the door for lawsuits and collection efforts well into the future. In theory, this could drag collection efforts out indefinitely.
If you are sued for a debt where the statute of limitations has expired, you can successfully defend such an action upon proving this to be the case. It is important not to ignore any legal notice about a debt, even if you are sure the debt is too old. Just because the statute has run does not mean you will prevail in the lawsuit. Rather, it is the debtor’s responsibility to raise this as an affirmative defense.
If you are struggling with old debts you cannot manage, you may want to speak with our experienced Carbondale bankruptcy attorneys. We can help guide you in the best path for your future.