Summary: Residents of Missouri being pursued by an overly aggressive debt collector can seek refuge in the legal rights and protections afforded under the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act, Missouri statutes, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Debt Collection Rule.
Getting many phone calls, scary letters, and other threats from a debt collector can be very stressful and upsetting for many people, including those living in Missouri. If a debt collector is chasing you, there are laws in place to keep you safe when talking to them about a late payment.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of debt collection laws in Missouri, including laws pertaining to the statute of limitations.
Missouri has its own debt collection laws designed to provide specific legal protections to consumers. For example, there is a state law known as the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). The MMPA prohibits deceptive, unfair, or fraudulent practices in the collection of debts. It allows consumers to take legal action against debt collectors who violate their rights under the law.
Missouri law also requires debt collectors to provide consumers with a dispute process. If a consumer disputes a debt, the collector must investigate the dispute and provide a response within a reasonable amount of time.
In addition, Missouri has a statute of limitations that limits the amount of time debt collectors have to file a lawsuit to collect a debt. In Missouri, the statute of limitations for most consumer debts is five years (discussed in more depth below).
The Missouri statute of limitations on debt
As mentioned, Missouri laws regulate the statute of limitations on the several different kinds of debt agreements, as outlined in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.
The statute of limitations on debt refers to the maximum period of time during which a creditor or debt collector can legally sue a debtor for unpaid debts. Once this timeframe expires, the creditor loses the legal right to file a lawsuit for the unpaid debt, though they may still attempt to collect the debt in other ways.
For written agreements that contemplate the payment of money or property, Missouri law dictates that the statute of limitations on this debt is 10 years. Please note that under certain circumstances, the contractual statute of limitations can be reduced to five years.
The table below further outlines the Missouri statute of limitations on debt types.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also protect Missouri residents
In addition to Missouri-specific laws, consumers can seek refuge from harassing debt collectors under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA sets rules and regulations for debt collectors. It was enacted to protect consumers from abusive and unfair practices during the debt collection process. While the FDCPA is a federal law, it applies in Missouri as well, ensuring that debt collectors in the state adhere to specific guidelines. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in certain behaviors, including:
Harassment: Debt collectors cannot use abusive language, threats, or harassment to collect a debt. They cannot repeatedly call you or contact you at inconvenient times, such as early in the morning or late at night.
False or misleading statements: Debt collectors cannot make false statements or misrepresent the amount of the debt, the consequences of not paying, or their identity. They cannot pretend to be someone they are not, such as a law enforcement officer or an attorney.
Unfair practices: Debt collectors cannot engage in unfair practices to collect a debt. This includes adding unauthorized charges or fees to the debt, depositing post-dated checks early, or threatening to take legal action if they have no intention of doing so.
It is important to note that the FDCPA applies to third-party debt collectors who are collecting debts on behalf of someone else. It does not apply to creditors who are collecting their own debts.
In addition to the consumer protections contained within the FDCPA, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued a “Debt Collection Rule” in 2021 that clarifies how debt collectors can communicate and engage with consumers when attempting to collect on a delinquent account.
For example, pursuant to the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule, a debt collector is prohibited from calling a consumer more than seven times within a seven-day period, or seven days after initially engaging in a phone conversation with a consumer concerning a delinquent account.
Debt settlement laws in Missouri
On top of debt collection regulations, federal law also governs the practice of debt settlement within Missouri. Most specifically, all 50 states, including Missouri, are governed by the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule when it comes to debt settlement. According to the Telemarketing Sales Rule, companies providing debt relief services (i.e., debt settlement companies) are prohibited from:
Charging upfront fees - Debt settlement companies are not allowed to collect fees from a Missouri consumer before the consumer’s debt has been effectively settled or otherwise come off their proverbial books.
Failing to disclose certain information about its services before a consumer enrolls in the debt relief program - The Rule stipulates that debt relief companies are not allowed to withhold, or fail to disclose, the following:
The overall cost of their services;
The amount of time it takes before a consumer sees results;
How much money needs to be saved before a settlement offer can be conveyed to creditors;
Ramifications if the consumer fails to make payments on time;
The customer’s rights; and
Other important terms.
Misrepresenting their services to consumers - Debt settlement companies operating in Missouri may not make false or unsubstantiated claims regarding their services.
Key takeaways on Missouri debt collection laws
Debt collection laws in Missouri, and at the federal level passed by Congress, are available to help level the playing field when a consumer is being hounded by an unscrupulous debt collector. Here are some key takeaways on this article on debt collection laws in Missouri:
Debt collectors in Missouri are subject to state and federal laws when trying to collect debts.
The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) prohibits deceptive, unfair, or fraudulent practices during debt collection and provides consumers the right to take legal action against violative debt collectors.
The Missouri statute of limitations limits the time debt collectors have to file lawsuits for collections. The general statute for debt is 10 years but can be more or less for certain agreements.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits certain behaviors by debt collectors such as harassment, making false statements, and engaging in unfair practices. Applies to third-party collectors, not original creditors.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Debt Collection Rule (2021) clarifies how debt collectors can communicate with consumers and limits calls to seven times within a seven-day period after initial contact.
The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule governs debt settlement practices throughout the US and prohibits debt settlement companies from charging upfront fees, requiring them to disclose specific information about their services, costs, and results before accepting a consumer’s enrollment.
If you’ve been sued for a debt in Missouri, respond to the case with SoloSuit’s Debt Answer form and increase your chances of winning.
Settle your debt in Missouri
Debt collectors and creditors have the right to take legal action if you refuse to communicate with them about your debt. However, that doesn’t mean that all debt lawsuits have merit. Luckily, SoloSuit was created with this in mind.
SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt lawsuit in Missouri, stand up for your rights, and buy yourself time to work out a debt settlement plan. The surest way to get debt collectors off your back is by paying what you owe. And if you go about this wisely, you can usually settle your debt for less than you originally owed.
In a debt settlement, you offer your creditor a portion of the total amount due, usually at least 60% of the debt’s value. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the creditor agrees to drop its legal claims against you and release you from the remaining balance.
If you decide to settle your obligation, you’ll want to ensure you get the terms of your agreement in writing and pay the creditor before your court date. If you’ve never tried debt settlement before, consider working with a professional organization that will guide you through the process.
To learn more about how to settle a debt in Missouri, check out this video:
SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.
"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather