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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Virginia

George Simons | October 19, 2022

Let debt collectors know the statute of limitations has run out.

Summary: Worried that you'll never be able to pay that old debt? You might not have to. Learn all you need to know about the statute of limitations in Virginia and find out if you don't have to pay that old debt off.

If you reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia and are receiving frequent phone calls and letters from creditors seeking repayment for an alleged unpaid debt, it is important to determine the age of the debt that is the basis of collection efforts. Why? Because there are laws that provide a finite period of time in which a debt collection lawsuit can be filed in Virginia. The time period is known as the “statute of limitations.”

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the time period in which a creditor, or debt collection agency, can file a lawsuit against you to try and recover an outstanding debt. If the statute of limitations in Virginia has expired, both creditors and debt collection agencies are prohibited from filing suit against you in relation to the outstanding debt.

The statute of limitations will vary both by the type of debt and the state in which you reside. For example, the statute of limitations for a debt collection lawsuit in Nebraska is different from a debt collection lawsuit filed in Virginia.

In certain circumstances, the time period for taking legal action will be dictated by the specific language in a contractual agreement. For example, many credit card agreements feature a “choice of law” provision that designates a particular state law that will apply if there is a dispute.

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The Statute of Limitations in Virginia

Virginia Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years



Auto Loan


Credit Card






State Tax


Source: Findlaw

In Virginia, there are different statutes of limitations for different types of debt. Here is an overview of the applicable statute of limitations:

  • Three-year statute of limitations for oral debts (i.e. no written contracts)
  • Four-year statute of limitations on auto loan debts
  • Five-year statute of limitations on credit card debts, mortgage debts, and medical debts
  • Seven-year statute of limitations on State tax debts

It is important to understand that a debt collector can still attempt to recover on an old debt, but when the statute of limitations expires, they are prohibited from securing a recovery through a court judgment.

When a creditor is attempting to collect on an old debt, they might try to convince you to make a small, “good faith” payment toward the debt. Do not fall for this trick. They want you to make a small payment because that will automatically reset the clock on the applicable statute of limitations. This means the debt collector will enjoy an even longer period of time to try and recover the debt.

Debt Collection Protections in Virginia

Debt collection laws vary by state. In Virginia, debtors are shielded from malicious tactics by creditors who falsely acquire legal debt collection documents such as a lien under the Virginia Code.

Debtors are also protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA), which provides rules and guidelines that credit collectors should follow. These rules also protect debtors from debt collectors' false, abusive, and annoying debt collection tactics.

The Virginia Collection Act also guides the state on what is required of them while collecting state debts such as fines and fees. However, this code allows the state of Virginia to use aggression if need be while collecting outstanding state debts.

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What to Do When You Receive a Collection Letter

The first thing to do when you receive a debt collection letter in Virginia is to ensure that the document is legal. Virginia disallows debt collectors to duplicate legal documents for debt collection. They can only send you letters about the credit you owe them.

If the creditor fakes a legal document as a tactic to make you pay your dues, they could face legal action. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can help you verify your debt and answer any other questions regarding this issue.

If you have reasons to believe that the credit collector violates FDCPA rules, you may take legal action by filing a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission and the CFPB.

Debt Collector Tricks and Tactics

If you want to avoid the threat of being sued for a time-barred debt in Virginia, it is important to proactively ask the debt collector whether the debt Is time-barred based on the statute of limitations. This is important because debt collectors are legally obligated, pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), to respond honestly when asked whether the outstanding debt is time-barred.

If the debt collector confirms that the statute of limitations has expired on the debt, do not acknowledge the debt and do not agree to pay any of it. The FDCPA is a federal law enacted by Congress that was intended to protect individuals from being subjected to harassing debt collection attempts. In addition to the legal obligation to tell you whether the debt is time-barred due to the statute of limitations, the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from contacting you before 8:00 am and after 9:00 pm, contacting your employer, using threatening language, etc.

If you are unsure whether a particular debt is time-barred based upon the statute of limitations, ask for confirmation on when the last payment was made. The debt collector should be able to tell you the date of the last payment. On the other hand, if the debt collector does not have this information, it may be an indication that the collection agency is trying to collect on a debt with flimsy or paltry evidence.

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You also have the right to request a debt validation letter from the creditor. You can send a written request for debt validation within 30 days of being contacted by a debt collector. A debt validation letter will serve to confirm the specific information about the debt collection agency (or creditor), the debt purportedly owed, and your rights under the FDCPA. The creditor or debt collection agency is legally obligated to stop all collection efforts until it responds to the debt validation letter.

In Virginia, a creditor or debt collection agency is afforded a finite period of time to take legal action to try and recover a debt. This finite period of time is known as the statute of limitations. In Virginia, the applicable statute of limitations for credit card debts, mortgage debts, and medical debts is five years. After the statute of limitations has expired, a creditor or debt collector can no longer file a collection lawsuit related to that debt.

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