Know the Statute of Limitations on debt in Arizona to win your case.
Summary: Being sued for an old debt in Arizona? It might be too late for the creditor to do anything about it. Learn about the statute of limitations and how to beat debt collectors in Arizona.
Arizona is a state with sweeping deserts, lots of sunshine, and fun things to do in the two major cities of Phoenix and Tucson. Despite this, many Arizona residents also suffer from debt. Luckily there are a few legal loopholes and protections offered to those who find themselves in debt in the state of Arizona. These include debt relief programs and options for paying off your debt but also using the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.
Legal Methods for Collecting Debt in Arizona
In Arizona, creditors, and collections agencies may go after you using different legal methods to collect a debt. You will be required to respond to the lawsuit, and appear in court. If you do not respond, or if they are given a judgment against you, then the state of Arizona will allow the collector to collect from you in the following ways.
- Wage Garnishment. In Arizona, creditors may garnish 25% of your disposable earnings. This is equal to your income, after taxes and government benefits. Retirement and long-term disability, or social security income are protected.
- Property Lien. If you own a home, then a creditor or debt collector may be able to place a lien on your home in an attempt to collect a debt. When a lien is placed on the title of your property, creditors will require you to pay off your debt before selling your home. Although you can sell your home, any proceeds will be used to first pay off your debt. Property liens in Arizona expire after 10 years.
- Bank Levy. Debt collectors and creditors may also place a levy on both personal property and wages. This means that they can legally take your property, or take money directly from your bank account to pay back unpaid debts. The first $300 in your account is protected against seizure by law, but they may take anything else within the account.
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Arizona Statute of Limitations for Debts
Arizona Statute of Limitations
Deadline in Years
If you are being sued for debt in Arizona, it is essential to understand the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies from state to state and is the amount of time a creditor or debt collector may bring you to court for that debt.
After the statute of limitations has expired, the debt will become “time-barred.” Although this does not mean that the debt disappears, it does mean that you can no longer be pursued legally for the debt. Understanding when the statute of limitations expires, or if it is close to expiring, is essential in deciding your next step.
It is important to note that if you begin paying your debt, the statute of limitations “clock” will restart. This means that if you pay even a small payment for your debt, you may start the clock all over again.
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations ranges anywhere from four to six years. In Arizona, there are different lengths of time for different types of debt.
- State tax debt: 10 years
- Mortgage and medical debt: 6 years
- Auto loan debt: 4 years
- Credit card debt: 3 years
When the statute of limitations on your debt passes, the debt becomes time-barred. This means you can not have your wages garnished, nor your property seized by the debt collector.
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The FDCPA Protects You From Aggressive Debt Collectors
If you are struggling to pay off an original debt, such as a credit card, then your debt might be sold to a debt collector. Debt collectors often look to purchase overdue debt balances for a lower price, because the original creditor no longer wants to deal with it. This is how they make their profit. After your debt is sent to collections, you must educate yourself regarding the different laws in which a third-party debt collector may legally contact you.
Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors may not legally:
- Contact you at odd hours, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Contact you if you have representation by an attorney.
- Contact anyone other than you or your spouse while mentioning the debt.
- Contact your place of work if they know that your employer does not allow this
- Harass you in any way, make any threats that they legally cannot make
- Sue you for debt after the statute of limitations has expired.
After a debt collector attempts to sue you for debt, they must send you a written notice within five days of the first contact. This should include:
- How much you owe
- Name of your creditor
- Information on how to dispute the debt
You must respond to this notice anywhere between 20 to 30 days after receiving the notice. You may also request that a debt collector stop all communication with you. This is done by writing a cease and desist letter.
Don't let debt collectors push you around. File a response with SoloSuit.
How to Respond to Collection Letters and Lawsuits
If you have been contacted by a debt collection agency, you must respond with an “Answer” in writing. You should also ask for a validation notice including the following information:
- How much you owe specifically
- How the debt was incurred
- Name and contact information of debt collection agency pursuing you
- Methods in which to dispute the debt
If you do not believe the debt is yours, or you are not sure if it belongs to you, then there should be information in your validation notice for disputing it. You will have around 30 days after receiving the validation notice to send a letter disputing the debt. This might include telling the collector you do not want them to contact you.
If the debt does belong to you, then you should look into the statute of limitations. Be sure to notice if it has expired, or if it plans to expire soon. Do not pay on any debt that you are being sued for. Oftentimes collectors look to revive old debts before they are officially dead.
What is SoloSuit?
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate
>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance
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