If you’ve ever watched a crime drama on TV, you may have heard them mention the term “statute of limitations.” This refers to laws that create a maximum amount of time within which a person can be prosecuted for a crime.
Statutes of limitations apply to both criminal and civil courts, which means there is a statute of limitations on your delinquent debt. Creditors and debt collectors only have a specific amount of time in which they can file suit against you to collect on a debt. The length of the statute of limitations varies from state to state and based on the nature of the debt you owe, such as whether you had a written or oral contract to pay your debt.
In the State of Missouri, creditors have 5 years to file suit against you for unpaid debts on open-ended accounts and oral contracts. They have 10 years to file suit for written contracts and promissory notes.
Outside of the statute of limitations, creditors and debt collectors can no longer take you to court to collect on these debts.
However, one unscrupulous collection tactic used by creditors to circumvent these statutes of limitations on debt is known as re-aging accounts. When an account is “re-aged,” it restarts the clock on the statute of limitations, thereby giving the creditor more time to be able to sue you and collect.
In order to re-age an account, an unethical creditor may illegally submit false information about your debt to the credit bureaus in order for the account to stay on your credit report longer than it is supposed to. By keeping a negative account on your credit report, the debt collector is effectively trying to force you to pay the old debt by leveraging your creditworthiness.
This is an illegal debt collection practice that is often perpetrated by debt collectors who have purchased your debt on a secondary market without knowing it was outside the statute of limitations. It is vital that you take swift action to correct the illicit re-aging of your accounts before it can cause too much damage. However, if you are contacted about an old debt that is beyond the statute of limitations, you need to be very careful because you could potentially re-age the account yourself by agreeing that the debt is your responsibility or agreeing to pay any of the debt.
If you are contacted by debt collectors regarding an old debt that is outside the statute of limitations, or if you suspect a creditor has artificially and illegally re-aged an account on your credit report, you need to make sure you do not do anything to legitimize your responsibility to pay the debt. Do not even acknowledge that it was your debt in the past. Then, immediately contact Bell Law and let us work to ensure your rights are protected against these illegal and unfair debt collection practices.