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Debt Collection Laws in Oregon

Patrick Austin, J.D. | July 24, 2023

Patrick Austin
Attorney from George Mason
Patrick Austin, JD

Patrick Austin is a licensed attorney with a background in data privacy and information security law. Patrick received his law degree at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for the National Security Law Journal.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

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.

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The Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act protects you

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:

  • Debt collectors cannot threaten to arrest you.
  • Debt collectors cannot threaten to take your property without disclosing that such action requires proper court proceedings.
  • Debt collectors cannot contact, or threaten to contact, your employer about an alleged debt.
  • Debt collectors are only allowed to write to you at your work address if your home address is not available.
  • Debt collectors must disclose their name and the organization they work with within 30 seconds of contacting you about a debt.
  • Debt collectors cannot use the seal or letterhead of a public official or a public agency.
  • Debt collectors who violate the OUDCPA could be subject to fines and penalties by the Oregon Attorney General and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

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 outlines your rights as a consumer

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:

  • Contacting your home before 8:00am in the morning
  • Contacting your home after 9:00 pm in evening
  • Using abusive, inappropriate and harassing language during discussions; and
  • Pursuing a consumer for a debt they do not actually owe.

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).

Stand up for your rights and respond to your debt lawsuit.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act can help you protect your credit score

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:

  • Debt collectors are prohibited from reporting information they have reason to believe is untrue or inaccurate;
  • Debt collectors are obligated to have specific policies and protocols in place to validate what they are reporting and that the information being reported is accurate;
  • Debt collectors are obligated to provide the date of the original delinquency and have procedures in place against re-aging and duplicating reports transmitted to credit reporting agencies; and
  • Debt collectors also need to notify credit reporting agencies when the reported information is the subject of an active dispute and when an account is changing status from delinquent to closed.

The statute of limitations on debt in Oregon stops collectors from suing over old debt

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:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Oregon

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Medical 6 years
Student Loan 6 yaers
Auto Loan 6 years
Personal Loan 6 years
Mortgage 10 years
Judgment 10 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.

Use the statute of limitations as a defense in your case.

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.

Know your rights before you respond to a debt lawsuit in Oregon

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:

  • Respond to each claim against you.
  • Assert your affirmative defenses.
  • File your Answer before the Oregon deadline.

To learn more about how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon, check out this video:

Key Takeaways

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 are contacted by a creditor or debt collection agency, do not throw your hands up in despair. You have legal rights and protections under both federal law and Oregon law.
  • If you are being subjected to harassment by a debt collector, you may have grounds to file a legal action under the FDCPA and Oregon law to potentially recover compensatory damages.
  • The statute of limitations on debt is six years in Oregon, so be sure to check the date of your last payment on an account before agreeing to pay a debt collector. This could restart the clock on the statute of limitations and make it possible for the collector to file a lawsuit against you.

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.

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