debt

6 ways not to reset the clock on old debt

Take legal action if necessary
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Take legal action if necessary © Junial Enterprises/Shutterstock.com

Take legal action if necessary

Is a creditor suing after the collections clock on old debt has expired? Take action.

Show the court the debt is too old, and you win automatically. However, that only works if someone tells the court the statute of limitations has expired. If creditors win a judgment on expired debt, they can force collection for as long as your state law allows, says Thorleifson.

"It's up to you to go to court and raise the defense that the debt is beyond the statute of limitations," she says. "Don't trust the court system to figure it out on your behalf."

What you need to know: You must be legally served with notice of a lawsuit. Otherwise, "you could move to set aside the judgment," Thorleifson says.

If a creditor gets a judgment on expired debt, you could have a countersuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, says Hobbs. "(Federal) courts have found that it's against the law to sue a consumer (over) a time-barred debt."

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