Statute of Limitations on debts

What is Statute of Limitations?

The Statute of Limitations is the maximum time limit for a creditor to file a lawsuit in federal courts to claim the outstanding amount against a fraudulent debtor. If the lawsuit is not filed within the stated time limit, the creditor will loose the right to claim or sue for it forever. That means the debt collector will no longer have any right to sue you for payment of old debt. If a debt collector still threatens to sue you, he will be punished for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Usually the SOL time limit lies between 3-10 years after the moment you signs up a credit contract or the last activity date written on your credit report.


The purpose of the Statute of Limitations is to ensure that a debtor will not worry about being sued by the creditor for the rest of his life and he gets a chance to defend himself with new evidence. This does not ensure that a creditor will not be able to sue you. If a creditor does that, you can ask the judge to dismiss the case on the ground of expired time period. The Statute of Limitations does not hold for certain type of debt such as Federal Student loans, most types of fines, past due child support (depending on states).

The statute of limitations on debt depends upon the following:

  • The amount of debt you owe.
  • Your State's civil debt collection code.
According to Law.com Dictionary, the cases type and the statute of limitations includes

Statute of Limitations in the United States

The chart below depicts the Statute of Limitations in different states of the United States. If you want to know specific details on any account, you can contact your State's Attorney General Office.

Oral Contract:
You agree to pay money loaned to you by someone, but this contract or agreement is verbal (i.e., no written contract, "handshake agreement"). Remember a verbal contract is legal, if tougher to prove in court.
Promissory Note:
You agree to pay on a loan via a written contract, just like the written contract. The big difference between a promissory note and a regular written contract is that the scheduled payments and interest on the loan also is spelled out in the promissory note. A mortgage is an example of a promissory note.
Written Contract:
You agree to pay on a loan under the terms written in a document, which you and your debtor have signed.
Open-ended Accounts:
These are revolving lines of credit with varying balances. The best example is a credit card account.

Statute of Limitations Chart

State Written Contracts Oral Agreements Promissory Notes Open-ended Accounts
Alabama 6 6 6 3
Alaska 6 6 6 6
Arizona 6 3 5 6
Arkansas 5 3 6 3
California 4 2 4 4
Colorado 6 6 6 6
Connecticut 6 3 6 6
Delaware 3 3 6 3
D.C. 3 3 3 3
Florida 5 4 5 4
Georgia 6 4 6 4
Hawaii 6 6 6 6
Idaho 5 4 10 4
Illinois 10 5 6 5
Indiana 10 6 10 6
Iowa 10 5 5 5
Kansas 5 3 5 3
Kentucky 15 5 15 5
Louisiana 10 10 10 3
Maine 6 6 6 6
Maryland 3 3 6 3
Massachusetts 6 6 6 6
Michigan 6 6 6 6
Minnesota 6 6 6 6
Mississippi 3 3 3 3
Missouri 10 5 10 5
Montana 8 5 8 5
Nebraska 5 4 6 4
Nevada 6 4 3 4
New Hampshire 3 3 6 3
New Jersey 6 6 6 6
New Mexico 6 4 6 4
New York 6 6 6 6
North Carolina 3 3 5 3
North Dakota 6 6 6 6
Ohio 15 6 15 ?
Oklahoma 5 3 5 3
Oregon 6 6 6 6
Pennsylvania 6 4 4 6
Rhode Island 15 15 10 10
South Carolina 10 10 3 3
South Dakota 6 6 6 6
Tennessee 6 6 6 6
Texas 4 4 4 4
Utah 6 4 6 4
Vermont 6 6 5 6
Virginia 5 3 6 3
Washington 6 3 6 3
West Virginia 10 5 6 5
Wisconsin 6 6 10 6
Wyoming 10 8 10 8

Statute of Limitations on Judgments

The question of judgement comes up when a creditor files a lawsuit to recover the outstanding amount from the debtor. They must sue the debtor before the SOL time limit expired. At this time, the court will contact you via mail. The creditor will need to proof that the debt is actually owed. Once judgement is passed, the creditor has every right to seize your assets, bank accounts or garnish wages.

Statute of Limitations on Judgments
State SOL (Years) Maximum Interest Rate (%)
Alabama 20 12
Arkansas 10 10.5
Alaska 5 10
Arizona 10 Fed + 5
California 10 10
Colorado 20 8
Connecticut 20 10
Delaware No Limit Legal + Fed Discount + 5
D.C. 3 70% of interest rate
or 6% if not specified
Florida 20 10
Georgia 7 12
Hawaii 10 10
Iowa 6 10.875
Idaho 20 9
Illinois 20 8
Indiana 20 10
Kansas 5 4% above Fed Discount
Kentucky 15 12
Louisiana 10 9
Maine 20 7.5
Maryland 12 15% if under 30 months,
T-bill rate if over 30 months
Massachusetts 20 10
Michigan 10 20
Minnesota 10 6.953
Mississippi 7 5% changes yearly
Missouri 10 Amount in contract
Montana 10 9
North Carolina 5 10
North Dakota 6 1% above bond equiv Yield
Nebraska 20 2% above Prime
New Hampshire 20 10
New Jersey 14 No provisions
New Mexico 20 8.75% without written contract
Nevada 10 9
New York 10 8
Ohio 21 12
Oklahoma 5 10
Oregon 10 4% over T-bill
Pennsylvania 4 9% renewable @10 yrs
Rhode Island 20 6
South Carolina 10 12
South Dakota 20 14
Tennessee 10 10
Texas 10 10
Utah 8 can be 18% w/Agreement
or 6% without
Virginia 8 Judgement Contract Rate
Vermont 20 12
Washington 10 9
Wisconsin 10 12
West Virginia 20 10
Wyoming 5 12

The information is given above is believed to be correct at the time of creation of the page and is for reference purpose only. If you find any information incorrect, you can get it verified with your state Attorney General.