Statutes of Limitations For Mortgage and Credit Card Debt Litigation For All 50 States
An excerpt from Walk Away From Debt For A Better Future
Generally mortgages or notes that accompany deeds of trust are going to come under "Written Contracts," and credit card debt is going to come under "Open Accounts."
Medical bills might come under Oral Agreements or Written Contracts, depending on whether you signed anything, and if so, what the fine print said.
Promissory notes are something the average person never runs into unless perhaps they do a short sale or a deed-in-lieu return to bank on an underwater home. Then a promissory note could indeed be slipped into the stack of papers they ask you to sign. Promissory notes also come into existence when you tell a debt collector that "I promise to pay." Do not use the word "promise" it has real legal significance.
It's tempting to think that liberal states will favor consumers with short statutes of limitations, and conservative states will have long statutes of limitations. This is not necessarily so: Washington DC is indeed the consumer champion with 3-year limitations on all debt lawsuits but Massachusetts, reckoned liberal by most, is in the middle with 6-year limitations on all debt lawsuits. And Mississippi has statutes of limitations as short as DC.
There are some online charts listed below this table, some of them with good plain-English information and some very important notes.
|State||Oral Agreements||Written Contracts||Promissory Notes||Open Accounts|
|District of Columbia (DC)||3||3||3||3|
|New Hampshire (NH)||3||3||6||3|
|New Jersey (NJ)||6||6||6||6|
|New Mexico (NM)||4||6||6||4|
|New York (NY)||6||6||6||6|
|North Carolina (NC)||3||3||5||3|
|North Dakota (ND)||6||6||6||6|
|Rhode Island (RI)||15||15||10||10|
|South Carolina (SC)||10||10||3||3|
|South Dakota (SD)||6||6||6||6|
|West Virginia (WV)||5||10||6||5|
Very Important Note #1: if you pay one penny on an overdue debt, in most states, in most circumstances, you have "reset" the statute of limitations. That is, if the statute of limitations on a credit card debt was due to expire in 30 days, and you send the collection agency $10 you've just reset the clock ... to 3 years, 7 years, or whatever the statute of limitations is in your state. Please resist the temptation to just "send in a little bit." Also, please resist the temptation to send in a check for $1.00 as an insult; it will reset the statute of limitations.
Very Important Note #: Check your state's laws. We depend on legal databases, and though these are considered accurate, different states have different laws for sub-categories of debt.
A couple of good plain-English descriptions of the statute of limitations with state-by-state listings:
A more lawyerly state-by-state list:
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