statute of limitations

The answer is more complicated than you might think.

6 YEARS

Section 213 (2) of the CPLR states that the statute of limitations to commence an action upon a contractual obligation or liability, express or implied, except for residential rent overcharge, certain transactions described in the Uniform Commercial Code, or warranties on new homes, must be brought within 6 years after the cause of action accrued. This statute of limitations includes all “consumer credit transactions,” such as credit cards, and is calculated to run from the date of the last transaction (either the last credit purchase, or the last payment made, whichever occurs last in time).

3 YEARS

New York’s highest court, the Court Appeals, has recently held that in a debt-collection law suit, if the creditor to which you originally owed the debt is located in another state, then the place where the injury occurred to the creditor is that other state. In such cases, New York’s borrowing statute, CPLR 202, is invoked and the statute of limitations of the creditor’s home state will apply. Major creditors, such as Citibank, American Express, and Discover Bank are almost always based outside of New York. As such, these creditors, and the third-party debt collectors that purchase their delinquent accounts, are subject to the statute of limitations of the home state of the creditor.

The most common state in which creditors incorporate is Delaware, which has a 3-year statute of limitations for debt-collection lawsuits (10 Del. C. § 8106). So, for example, if you had a Discover Bank credit card that you stopped paying on January 1, 2012, and Discover Bank transferred your delinquent account to a third-party debt buyer, such as Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, then since Discover Bank is a Delaware Corporation, Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, would have until January 1, 2015 to sue you for the debt. Since Discover Bank is a Delaware Corporation, a 3 year statute of limitations would apply to your New York Discover Bank credit card debt, even if your credit card debt is transferred to a local third party debt collector, such as Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC.

Both creditors and debtors are frequently uninformed as to this rule, and often proceed to litigation under the assumption that New York’s 6-year statute of limitations applies, when, in fact, it might not.

LONGER THAN 6 YEARS

If a debt collector has convinced you to make any payment at any time after you first stopped paying the debt, the plaintiff’s time to sue you starts to run again. For example, if your last payment was made in December 2008, but you agreed in December 2011 to start making partial payments and, in fact, made a payment to the debt collector, the statute of limitations will now be renewed, starting from that 2011 payment, which means the creditor can have up to January 2018 to sue you. There is also something called “tolling,” which means suspending or pausing the statute of limitations. This can occur during any time in which you are not within the state. In other words, if you leave the State of New York for a period of time and then return, the statute of limitation does not run during the time you are out of state. It begins again from where it left off when you return.

FAILURE TO FILE SUIT WITHIN THE STATUTORY TIME PERIOD

If the court finds that the statute of limitations has run and the action is time barred, the case will be dismissed, and the creditor will be prohibited from ever suing you again to collect the debt.

Murtha Law Group

Author Murtha Law Group

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Join the discussion 60 Comments

  • Yas says:

    Hi,
    I have a default judgement against me 2011 that I just realized last week.I will try to vacate it due to bad service as I was never served. If I manage to vacate the judgement; can I get the case dismissed arguing that the statue of limitation has run as the last payment of my credit card was April 2009.

    • If you do manage to vacate your default judgment (when drafting your order to show cause, you must establish BOTH a reasonable excuse for the default, AND a valid defense to the original action), the original 2011 case will be added back to the court’s calendar as active. Your case will not be dismissed. The statute of limitations only applies if you have the original 2011 action dismissed. So if the default is vacated, you would then essentially have to begin defending the lawsuit from the start of the action (file an answer, respond to discovery, appear for trial, etc.)

  • theliss says:

    I have a credit agency coming sueing me for a credit card bill the limit was 1000 dollars this 2005 it is now 2016 i was given a judgement against me for over 3000 dollars is this legal?

    • I cannot answer as to the particulars of your case without knowing more facts (did you do something to toll the statute of limitations, such as recently make payments? Is the judgment from 2005 or closely thereafter, but they only recently began to enforce the judgment?), but I can tell you that in New York, judgments are valid for at least 20 years, and interest accrues on them until they are paid in full. If you believe it may be a default judgment (you were never notified of the lawsuit against you), we can take steps to vacate your judgment. Contact us directly to learn more.

      If you’re not sure what the judgment is for, you can research the New York Court System for your case (search for your name here: https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivilLocal/LCMain) and see when the case was concluded, who the plaintiff was, and how it resolved.

  • JoAnn Sanders says:

    A firm Cohen and Beck contacted me about a VERIZION bill going back to 2005. Has the Statute of limitations expired???. Thank you.

    • Without having more facts, it does appear that the debt is well past the statute of limitations. Debt collectors can still call you and ask you to pay expired debts, but they are prohibited from suing you for the debt, or from reporting the expired debt to any of the credit reporting bureaus (in other words, it cannot appear on your credit report). If they threaten you with litigation, or threaten to report the debt on your credit report, they are violating the FDCPA, and you may be entitled to collect damages against them.

  • Damika says:

    I just received a notice of garnishment from a debt collector. The date of entry is 0ctober 2006. I believe the debt occurred in 2002. I’ve never been notified of a lawsuit. How can they garnish my check after so much time and without me ever answering a lawsuit?

    • It sounds like the creditor secured a judgment against you sometime in 2006. Once a creditor has a judgment against you, they have 20 years to collect on that judgment. So that’s 20 years of garnishing wages, restraining bank accounts, even seizing assets until the judgment is paid off. If you were never served with the original summons and complaint, you may be able to vacate that judgment by filing an Order to Show Cause with the original court.

      • Lee McGregor says:

        How does the creditor have to serve you the original summons? I was mailed a letter by my county sheriff. I was never served in person and they are serving my job. Do you have to be served in person if you have a judgement against you?

        • The original summons and complaint must be either personally served at your residence, or served via “nail & mail”, which is essentially taping a copy of the summons and complaint to your front door, and mailing you an additional copy. If your first notice that a lawsuit was filed against you is notice of a judgment enforcement action from the Sheriff, it probably means you were not properly served with the summons and complaint, and you may be entitled to vacate the default judgment entered against you.

  • Lana says:

    I received a phone call today from Highland Park Financial stating that I owe T-Mobile money from 2004. Also stating that they have filed a civil case against me and that I will be served in 2-3 days. They also said that I recieved letters about this matter (but I never received anything). My problem is 1. I never had a Tmobile account and 2. From 2004. Can they even do that?? Hasnt the statute of limitaions run out? They say the person who had the phone stopped paying for it in 2005. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Steve Henderson says:

    What is the SOL in NY on business debt?

  • Cindy says:

    Recently found an old judgment filed in 2000. Is this still collectible in NYS and if not, how do I go about having it removed from the Clerk’s record?

    • Hi Cindy,

      You mention that you recently “found” a judgment. Is it showing up on your credit report? Is there a debt collector attempting to collect the debt? Judgments in New York are valid for at least 20 years, so a 2000 judgment is still collectable. The statute of limitations to sue on a debt is much shorter (3-6 years). However, once you are sued within that timeframe, and the Plaintiff is awarded a judgment against you, they have 20+ years to collect the judgment. If there is a judgment against you, it means that you were sued in court, and you either failed to appear or lost. If you are unaware that a lawsuit was filed against you, you may be able to take steps to vacate your default judgment.

  • Jacalyn Sorkin says:

    My son received a phone call last week on 8/9/2016 from Portfolio Recovery about a paypal account from GE credit card and a Capitol One bank card. He told the person who called that he never received anything in the mail concerning these 2 accounts. He set up a payment schedule with them to pay these 2 accounts back. PR wants to take out $113.00 for weeks 8/12, 8/19 and 8/26 for GE credit card and $279.00 on 9/2 and 71.00 on 9/16 for Capital One bank. Yesterday, 8/16/16 my son received verification on these accounts and they have reached there SOL’s. He has to call them and find out why is he paying these 2 cards back if the Statuate of Limitations has expired. Can he get back the $113.00 that they took out on 8/12/16? Should he close his checking account and debit card since he gave them his bank information? GE Bank no longer exists, its now Synphony Bank.

    • Hi Jacalyn,

      Once a debt is past the statute of limitations, a debt collector can still call you and ask you to pay the debt. But if you say no, there is nothing they can do (they cannot sue you once the debt is past the statute of limitations). Unfortunately, if you voluntarily make payments on the expired debt, it re-sets the statute of limitations. Meaning, the debt is no longer past the statute of limitations because you began paying it and made the debt current. So while your son’s debt may have been past the statute of limitations, once he began making payments again, it re-set the statute.

      Did the debt collector who made the payment arrangement with him tell him that he would be sued for the debt, or that the debt would be reported on his credit report, or do anything else to coerce or threaten him to make a payment arrangement? If so, the debt collector may have violated the FDCPA, and your son may have other options. In the future, please be advised that if a debt is past the statute of limitations, you most likely DO NOT have to pay the debt. Feel free to email us for more specifics.

  • marco torres says:

    A private party owes me over $1.5 million and he has been paying me $1800.
    a month under a notarized agreement renewed every year. Since we have
    this agreement renewed every year, does the NY State statute of limitations
    apply?

    Thank you

  • Renee Steigerwald0 says:

    I received a collections letter in the mail from the sheriff’s office stating they are going to garnish my wages to satisfy a debt from 2008. This is the first correspondence I have received in regards to this debt and this debt does not appear anywhere on my credit report. I have no started paying on this debt or moved out of state. What do I do in order for them not to garnish my wages. The judgement creditors are Arrow financial services and Washington Mutual Bank with a signature from someone from Foster’s and Garbus LLP. What should my first step be?

    • Hi Renee, was the judgment entered under your maiden name, or did you mis-spell your last name? You can email us your name, and any additional information you have about the judgment, and we’ll be happy to take a look. If you were never served with a summons, and if you never transacted business with Arrow Financial, you may be able to take steps to have the default judgment vacated.

  • Z Davis says:

    I have a private student loan from Citibank which I defaulted on in April of 2012. I live in NY state. Is this past the statute of limitations due to Citibank being incorporated in Delaware?

    Thank you.

    • I cannot give you specific advice about your situation, since there are so many factors that could change the outcome, however, generally, if a Citibank loan was defaulted in 2012, it would most likely be past the statute of limitations.

  • David Shifren says:

    Do you have a citation for the N.Y. Court of Appeals case you cite? Thank you!

  • John Mooney says:

    Valuable info, thank you. Still confused as to how/why it can be 3 or 6 years for the SOL. I have two outstanding debts with Bank of America last paid in October 2012. Could these be within the 3 year period and now be past the SOL?

    • John Mooney says:

      Bank of America is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina which has a 3 year SOL if my research is correct.

    • It depends on many other factors as well, including the type of debt (mortgage, credit card, other loan, etc.). It’s always best to ask a lawyer for a consultation with regards to your specific situation, as many factors weigh into whether a debt is no longer collectable, and much more information would be needed to answer this type of question.

  • Alison says:

    Hello,
    I have recently been contacted by JBS Consulting trying to collect payment on a debt from around 2003. They keep saying they are going to bring a judgement against me. This debt is from a Verizon home phone account in the original amount of about $459. They say I can pay that in one payment or break it up over 6 months and pay a total of $1059.84 OR they are going to sue me and I’ll have to pay $3500. They also are saying they will garnish my wages and income tax return and/or put a lien on my vehicle. They won’t stop calling me. I’ve never received anything in writing. Only phone calls and emails. This debt isn’t on my credit report and hasn’t been for years and years. I feel that it is out of the statute of limitations but, they are saying Verizon didn’t sell the debt until 2010 which makes it now within the SOL. Help! Thank you!

    • Hi Alison. It sounds like you’re being illegally threatened by a debt collector. Which means, you may be eligible to file an FDCPA claim against them, seeking Statutory Damages plus Attorney’s Fees. If you have contact information for the debt collection company and are interested in learning more, please contact our office directly.

    • Melissa Minetos says:

      Alison,

      I JUST got a phone call from the SAME place. They told me too, that Verizon sold them the debt in 2010 and that it was from a bill dated 2004. When I mentioned that the date was 13 years ago, she told me that the debt went from agency to agency and that Verizon sold the debt to them. She told me the inflated bill was now at $1015.26 and asked if I wanted to contest it. When I told her that I did, she told me to look for a summons to appear in court. She also told me I could have my wages garnished. Almost identical to what they told you!

  • sandi says:

    Question:

    I received a summons from portfolio recovery back in 2011 regarding a debt that defaulted in 2008, and which they had purchased. I filed and served an answer within 30 days, which the law firm representing them then acknowledged. I heard nothing more until this morning- almost 6 years later. Is this time barred, or does the summons they filed make the SOL on collection irrelevant?

    • The statute of limitations applies to the time they have to file the lawsuit, not collect on a judgment (which is 20+ years in NY). so as long as they file the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, they are most likely within the allowable timeframe.

  • Shelli says:

    My sister died in Feb 2017. Her estate is small, but there is a Discover card debt of $10,305 listed on her credit report as a charge off. This debt alone is more than her assets. Her daughter ran up a $13,000 debt using her mother’s card, then passed away in 2013. My sister tried to pay it off, but evidently had to stop mo. payments in Dec 2014. Does Portfolio v. King apply re the 3-year SOL? It would run out Dec 2017 or Jan 2018 if so?

  • kimberly bowen says:

    I have a personal $1,800 loan through Medaille college since 2008. I graduated in 2008 from there but in 2009 I was not able to make my minimum payments any more. In 2016 I called and they said the bill is over 4,000 now. They put a judgement on my credit in 2009 which is know longer on any of my 3 credit reports. I have never been served nor have a received a bill since Jan 2009. I have since relocated twice. Because of this bill they are holding my degree, its been over 8 years since my last payment. Can they hold my degree this long.

  • TBlake says:

    I have two outstanding debts with Bank of America last paid in October 2013. Could these be within the 3 year period and now be past the SOL? I live in New York City. It the SOL still 6yrs or 3yrs.
    Thanks

  • kbd says:

    I received a call from a “credit control” company stating that I owe a few hundred dollars to a doctor that I do not recall seeing. They stated that they have emailed me (they supplied an incorrect email) as well as a mailed bill (to an address that doesn’t exist) & neither of which I received. I googled the “credit control” company and found that they have very bad reviews online, and consumers warn not to pay them as they are deceitful and fraudulant. The debt collector states that the doctors visit took place was in 2011 and I owe $712. I questioned them on the SOL for this “bill” and they will not answer it. Just said that I had a service rendered and I owe for that service. They also want to charge me $250 in penalties. The billing office is in Florida, and they claim the doctors visit was in NY. Is this legal and are the allowed to report me to a credit agency?

  • Linda says:

    Hello.

    Amex Centurion has a judgment against me for $12,990 dated Nov 10, 2010, filed in Civil Court, NY Kings County. I haven’t heard from them in years regarding this issue. I’d like to have this removed from my credit report – how do I begin to do that? Thank you – any and all advice appreciated.

  • easteratepic.com says:

    Once a debt passes beyond the statute of limitation in your state, a debt collector no longer has the right to sue you for payment.

  • John says:

    I have a debt from 5-6 years ago for a building code violation. The city is threatening to collect this debt through rent intercept, or garnishment. City says they served the address in the assessors office which was never updated, so it was valid as the last address known to them. Assuming you cant get the case dismissed, would the judge reinstate the case. The violation was for rental registration and interior inspection, which the court declared unconstitutional in 2012.

  • mona says:

    A debt collection agency contacted me yesterday in regards to a 1997 Utility Bill from New York State. I ‘ve relocated to Georgia 20 years ago. I never received a bill nor has it shown up on my credit or never received calls regarding this debt. the agency said they will put a lien on me and contact my employer to garnish my wages. is this legal for them to contact me after all these years.

  • Ruth says:

    I just received a call from a debt collector (Jackson and robinson), telling me I have an outstanding debt to Verizon for 575.22 from 2005. They state that they have mailed to my last 2 known addresses request for payment. (although the actual address they mailed it to does not exist). I do not remember this debt, requested paperwork to be either mailed or emailed to me to verify. They refused stating they already did. they would be willing to settle the debt for 175.22 . Since I told them I would not give my banking information over the phone they offered to have me get a prepaid credit card and call them back. they are saying they will put a judgement against me if I don’t may this payment over the phone.
    My question is has this debt reached the statue of limitations (NYS)? Or should I just go ahead blindly and pay this so called debt? what other recourse do I have?

  • Ruth says:

    they are telling me that the 2005 debt was sold off in 2013 and therefore is still under the statue of limitations. is that correct?

  • Janell Coleman says:

    I live in Louisiana and have never been to New York. I owned a business in 2013 and used a credit card machine from a company based in New York. After a month I returned the machine because it was not needed.
    The New York company is now saying they are filing a judgment on me for over $8000 for not completing my lease agreement. Is this legal?

  • Lee says:

    Hello how and what are the procedures to vacate an order if I wasn’t served properly. A judgement was sent to my home which was from 2004 . This is the 2nd letter sent since 2007 . It orders me to pay 10% of my wages in which it’s a job they have information on that I no longer work at how do I proceed ? Has the SOL ran out I never was told I needed to appear in court what are my options?

  • N says:

    Hi ,

    I had an emergency room bill from 2010 that went into collections and a debt collector recently contacted me and out of fear I ended up agreeing to settle and made a payment. I have not signed the paperwork because I started doing some research and they never provided me with a VOD letter and when I called back inquiring about it they gave me a whole song and dance of “didnt you get our email?” Also, looking at the settlement letter by NY law it should state the company name and address and individual who handled the settlement, but it is completely devoid of this. Also, the number they called me from comes up as a a Florida number and then a New York number (the changes even though it is the same individual calling) . I am going to stop payment on this because they didnt provide me with the correct paperwork as well as settlement letter, I just want to know if I stop payment whether or not the SOL will restart?

  • Can says:

    I’m getting calls from debt collectors about 2 MRI hospital bills that my insurance company paid their contractural agreement on with the hospital. They’re saying I owe the rest outside of the contractural agreement that the insurance company did’t pay. I was under the impression that is what their contracting with insurance companies for and they are not allowed to charge over their contractural agreement. This is not coinsurance or copayment fees. This bill is from 2016 and I’ve had other MRI’s from previous years with this hospital and no other payments were requested outside of the contractural agreement. What are my options?

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi,
    I was recently served in person with a debt from Citibank. The last time I paid the debt was 8/2013. Being that Citibank is incorporated in Deleware.. (im in New York)..Does the three year statue of limitations still apply and when I go to court can I site the statue to the judge to possible have the debt dismissed? Thank you for your help in advance.

  • Kyla Taylor says:

    I have an unpaid credit card debt from over 10 years ago. The credit card company sold their rights to a third party to collect. The third party debt collector has sent me a letter asking me to call them . I have not made contact with either the original credit card company or the third party debt collector. I reside in New York. It is my understanding that the statute of limitations in New York is 6 years . Can the third party debt collector bring a judgement against me for the unpaid debt? can you please advise?

  • brandon says:

    Hi
    My house was over appraised 98 percent over value my old lenders sold my loan many time the mortgage loan was discharged . it has negative amortize ,balloon payment, mortgage 110 over finance , note were never endorsed into the PSA trust. Is loan illegal predatory do i have good case?

  • Paul says:

    I had a judgment from a bank loan more than 7 years ago, it’s been dropped from my credit report and I’m wondering if my bank account can still be in jeopardy

    Thanks

  • Sasha says:

    I want to know. My previous landlord from back in 2008 sued me for money judgment in summer of 2015 more than 7 years although there is 20 year’s for a suit, I never receive anything prior to the suit which makes question the lawsuit in -addition to a frozen account that is still frozen more than 2 years and no decision made from the judge till this day. Did the previous landlord had rights to collecting on an old debt without prior communication to attempt to collect?

  • Mina says:

    I had a Sallie Mae Student Loan for around $5000. I stopped making payments on it in 2013 since I did not have a full-time jobs and my income was barely sufficient to make any payments. I put my federal loans in hardship status but was unable to put this private loan on hardship status. They kept on pursuing me from every possible place. I thought that if I didn’t make any payments on a private loan for 5 years, it will fall off. Sallie Mae transferred the loan to Navient, and they pursued me for awhile but stopped contacting me and the loan appeared as closed across my credit reports. I login to Navient and the loan has gone up to $7000 and shows that I have missed 7 payments which is not possible. If I stopped paying in 2013 how is that 7 payments? I do have other subsidized and unsubsidized loans fro US Department of Education which I intend on paying but I would want to get rid of this loan because when I was unable to make payments on this, they contacted credit bureaus and ruined my credit score.

  • Terri says:

    Thank you for this informative website. I believe I have the answer to the following question based on your site, but would like you to confirm if possible.
    If the last payment made on a medical date is June 2007, would the statue of limitations in New York State be exceeded by a notification of debt collector dated February 2018 (nearly 11 years after the fact)?
    Thank you.

  • Mann says:

    I have three credit cards debt with Citibank. I have not made a payment or agreed to any payment arrangement since 2013. One of the credit card sued me in 2015 but it was dismissed.
    I have lived in New York since September, 2014. I lived in Connecticut before. Could Citibank sue me after 2019 ? Thanks.

  • Mari says:

    I had a credit card long time agoe which I didn’t pay out. I don’t remember the ammount exactly, but they say it is around $12000. My credit history is clean and doesn’t show any
    delinquent accounts or judgments. A week ago my checking sccount was put on hold by the law company located in NY. I recieved a letter that shows the amount $27000 (interest accumulated) and the date for a credit card is 2003. It has been 15 years. What should I do at this point. The bank gave me my money back (unemployment), but how do I clear my checking account hold?

    Regards

  • Jean says:

    Can a commercial landlord in New York bill back a retail tenant for 6 years ago ‘s charges?

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