Patrick Austin, J.D. | July 24, 2023
Edited by Hannah Locklear
Summary: The Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protect consumers, like you, from abusive debt collectors in Oregon. Likewise, Oregon’s six-year statute of limitations on debt protects you from being sued over an old debt. Knowing your rights can empower you to represent yourself in court, and SoloSuit makes responding to a debt lawsuit easier.
Being pursued by a debt collector is generally considered to be an unpleasant experience that routinely triggers people to be stressed, anxious, and concerned every time the phone rings. If you are being contacted by a debt collector and are a resident of the Beaver State, do not fret. There are legal protections codified under Oregon law and under federal law to help you when engaging with a debt collector about a delinquent account.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of debt collection laws in Oregon, including laws designed to protect you from harassment, intimidation, and deceptive collection practices.
There are a series of state laws designed to regulate the practices of debt collectors operating in Oregon. For example, debt collection agents and agencies are legally obligated to register with the state. In addition, the state legislature enacted the Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act (OUDCPA), which mirrors the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (more on this law below).
The OUDCPA contains the following provisions governing debt collection practices in the Beaver State:
The OUDCPA also mandates that any debt collector operating in Oregon be registered within the state and adhere to Oregon law when it comes to engaging with Oregon residents in their debt collection efforts.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law Congress passed in 1977 with the objective of defining acceptable, and unacceptable, practices of debt collection agents and agencies. In addition, the FDCA provides consumers with legal rights and protections against certain types of unethical and improper debt collection practices, including:
The FDCPA also states that debt collectors are prohibited from using any misleading or deceptive representation in their effort to collect on a debt. In addition, the FDCPA requires debt collectors to substantiate that you actually owe the debt being pursued. For example, you can demand a debt collector issue a debt validation letter confirming you actually owe the debt.
Another consumer-focused feature of the FDCPA is if you can present evidence to a court that a debt collector violated the FDCPA, you may have grounds to request monetary damages from the violating debt collector. This is because § 813 of the FDCPA enables consumers to seek recovery up to $1,000 in damages from debt collectors deemed to have violated the federal law. Furthermore, to obtain the $1,000 in damages, a consumer simply has to show that the collector violated the FDCPA. This means the consumer does not have to show actual harm.
In addition to potentially recovering monetary damages, a court has the authority to order a debt collector who violated the FDCPA to halt certain collection activities. This is known as "injunctive relief." For example, a court has the authority to require that the debt collector deemed to have violated the FDCPA to cease all communications with you (both phone calls and letters).
The rights and legal protections afforded under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are focused primarily on what information a debt collector can convey to the major credit reporting agencies regarding your debt.
The FCRA was originally enacted in 1970 with the original intent of requiring consumer reporting agencies to institute procedures and protocols that would help ensure credit-related information concerning consumers was accurate, relevant and proper. However, approximately 26 years later, the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996 was passed by Congress that imposed a legal obligation on companies and organizations that furnished information to credit reporting agencies (which includes debt collectors).
The legal protection for debt collectors to provide accurate information to credit reporting agencies is now codified in the FCRA’s "Furnisher Rule." This rule effectively governs how debt collectors report certain debt-related information and what specific information needs to be included on a credit report about a debt, including:
The statute of limitations for debt in Oregon is six years. Basically, this means a creditor or debt collection agency has up to six years to try and collect on a debt via a lawsuit. The table below further outlines the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon:
|Credit Card||6 years|
|Student Loan||6 yaers|
|Auto Loan||6 years|
|Personal Loan||6 years|
|ORS § 12.080, 12.050, and 12.070|
Please note the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon does not technically commence when you received the last bill or deficiency notice. Rather, the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon commences on the date the last payment was made on the debt. This means if you make a payment towards the debt, even if it is only a partial payment, it could very well restart the clock on the statute of limitations. Debt collectors often know this, which is why they may be so amenable to you making a partial payment toward the debt.
If a debt collector can get you to make a payment on a debt that is already past the statute of limitations, then the clock will restart, allowing them to take you to court for it. This is why you should always investigate the statute of limitations on a debt before you make any payments to a collector.
Luckily, ORS 646.639(r) prohibits debt collectors from suing you if they know, or after exercising reasonable diligence would know, that the statute of limitations is already up on your debt.
Another notable consideration is whether there is a provision in a contractual agreement between an Oregon consumer and a creditor. The existence of an agreement needs to verified because there may be a provision stipulating less time for a creditor to file a debt collection lawsuit. This means you could potentially get out of debt collection litigation in less than six years.
Specifically, there are some credit card agreements that contain a provision stipulating legal disputes are governed by Delaware law. The statute of limitations on debt in Oregon is only three years. Though, please note that the Oregon Court of Appeals subsequently decided that if a credit card company sells your debt to a collection company, the six-year statute of limitations in Oregon applies.
Let’s consider an example.
Example: The Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether three Oregon residents were still responsible for late charges, late payments, fees and interest more than three years, but less than six years, after credit card bills went unpaid. The Oregon residents signed up for credit cards with Delaware-based Chase. When the residents were unable to pay their credit card bills, Chase shut down their accounts and eventually sold the unpaid debt to collectors for pennies on the dollar. Two debt collectors — CACV of Colorado and Unifund CCR Partners — filed a debt collection lawsuit to try and recover on these debts. The Oregon residents argued they were no longer responsible for the debt on the grounds that the three-year statute of limitations in Delaware expired, according to an Oregon Live news report. The Chase credit card agreements stated Delaware law applied. So, the Court of Appeals had to decide whether Delaware’s statute of limitations law still applied after the debt was sold to third party debt collectors. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals sided with the debt collectors and decided Oregon’s six-year statute of limitations applied.
The statute of limitations is powerful since, as indicated above, it has the potential to be used as an affirmative defense to get a debt collection lawsuit thrown out of court. Here’s how it works — if more than six years have elapsed in Oregon and the debt remains outstanding, a creditor or debt collection agency is effectively prohibited from filing a lawsuit against you.
Also note that the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon does not provide any legal protections when it comes to the impact of the debt collection on your credit report. This means the unpaid debt may still appear on your credit report for several years after the statute of limitations has lapsed.
When you know your rights, you will feel empowered to respond to debt collectors without having to go to the trouble of finding and hiring a lawyer to represent you.
SoloSuit makes it easy to represent yourself in court and respond to a debt lawsuit. Our software can help you create an Answer that is personalized to your case, and helps you:
To learn more about how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon, check out this video:
Oregon debt collection laws were enacted with the intention of keeping consumers safe and mitigating the risk of being subjected to abusive and harassing debt collectors. These laws, both at the state level and federal level, help even out the proverbial playing field and make it easier for consumers to defend themselves in and out of court. Here are some key takeaways on Oregon debt collection laws:
If you’ve been sued for a debt in Oregon, respond to the case with SoloSuit’s Debt Answer form and increase your chances of winning by 7x.
SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.
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.
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.
Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.
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