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Kentucky Debt Collection Laws — What You Need to Know

Chloe Meltzer | October 19, 2022

Summary: Kentucky's statute of limitations law gives debt collectors a deadline to file a lawsuit when trying to collect a debt. This protects consumers, like you, from abusive debt collection practices. The FDCPA also prevents unfair debt collectors in Kentucky.

Every state has a different set of laws as well as a statute of limitations when it comes to debt collections. In Kentucky, the average household debt is below the national average, but default rates are higher than the national average. Default is considered being at least 90 days late on payments.

This means that, in Kentucky, residents are more likely to suffer from a debt collection lawsuit than in other states. Additionally, there are limited consumer protections in Kentucky according to state laws.

It is important to understand your rights regarding debt collection in Kentucky. This includes the specific laws that protect you and how to fight a debt collection lawsuit. If you get sued for a debt, it is essential that you respond as quickly as possible to avoid a default judgment.. If you ignore the lawsuit, you will lose by default and the collector can legally garnish your wages or seize your property.

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The statute of limitations on credit card debt in Kentucky

To garnish your wages to pay back a debt, the debt collector must file a lawsuit against you and win. The statute of limitations is a law that governs how long a debt collector is legally allowed to collect a debt through the court system.

If you are a Kentucky resident, then you should know the rules that govern the Kentucky statute of limitations on debt. Knowing the statute of limitations on your debt is one of the most important ways to protect yourself from debt collectors.

Kentucky Revised Statutes §413.120(1) states:

“The following actions shall be commenced within five (5) years after the cause of action accrued:
(1) An action upon a contract not in writing, express or implied.”

This means that, according to Kentucky law on oral contracts and verbal agreements, debt collection agencies only have five years to file a lawsuit on a debt since the last action on the account. In other words, the statute of limitations on credit card debt in Kentucky is five years.

However, this statute isn't applicable to all types of debts. For example, Kentucky Revised Statutes §413.090(2) states:

“Except as provided in KRS 396.205, 413.110, 413.220, 413.230 and 413.240, the following actions shall be commenced within fifteen (15) years after the cause of action first accrued:
(2) An action upon a recognizance, bond, or written contract, except that actions upon written contracts executed after July 15, 2014, shall be governed by KRS 413.160.”

So, Kentucky law also states that creditors have fifteen years before the statute of limitations expires for written contracts.

There are also other laws within the statute of limitations that govern different types of debt in Kentucky. For example, when it comes to creditors looking to recover real property, there are 15 years to sue. When it comes to suing for credit fraud, the statute of limitations is 5 years, and creditors pursuing people who owe money from judgments, contracts, or bonds, are limited to 15 years. Any other form of debt that is not specifically outlined in the Kentucky statute of limitations has a 10-year limit.

The table below outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debts in Kentucky:

Kentucky Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

5

Written

10

Mortgage

15

Open

5

Credit Card

5

Judgment

15


Source: Findlaw


Debts that are older than the statute of limitations are called time-barred debts. Debt collectors can still contact you about a time-barred debt, but the collector cannot sue you. Once the statute of limitations passes, you will still legally owe the money to the creditor, but you cannot be sued in court. This means that you cannot be taken to court to allow the debt collector to garnish your wages or your bank accounts. You must know not to pay on this debt, or you will start your debt over again.

If you're being sued for a debt that has passed the Kentucky statute of limitations, you can include this as one of your affirmative defenses in your response to the lawsuit.

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Understanding Kentucky debt collection laws and wage garnishment laws

Other than the statute of limitations, Kentucky doesn't really have state-specific debt collection laws to protect consumers. Most of those protections are granted by federal law under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) which we will explore below.

That being said, Kentucky follows federal law on wage garnishments under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This law states that the only the smaller amount of the two following options can be garnished:

  • No more than 25% of an individual's wages per pay period.
  • Disposable earnings that are greater than 30 times the Federal minimum hourly wage ($7.25/hour). Disposable earnings equals the amount after legal deductions have been made.

So, if you've lost your debt collection lawsuit and your wages are being garnished, you're still protected from having all your money taken away.

Even though there aren't many state debt collection laws in Kentucky, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has got you covered.

The FDCPA protects you from abusive debt collectors

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law enacted in 1978 and designed to prevent harassment and unfair collection methods by debt collectors. If you are being contacted by a debt collector in Kentucky, then you need to look into your rights to fight it.

There are specific parameters that govern how and when a debt collector can contact you. Below, we will cite laws directly from the FDCPA and explain them. Let's get right to it.

Debt collectors must follow communication rules

FDCPA §805(a) states:

(a) Communication with the consumer generally

Without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt --

(1) at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which should be known to be inconvenient to the consumer. In the absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o'clock antemeridian and before 9 o'clock postmeridian, local time at the consumer's location;

(2) if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney's name and address, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct communication with the consumer; or

(3) at the consumer's place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer's employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.”

According to this section of the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot do any of the following:

  • Call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Contact you instead of your attorney when they have your attorney's information.
  • Contact you at work when they know your employer prohibits such communication.

FDCPA §805(b) states:

“(b) Communication with third parties

Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector, or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, or as reasonably necessary to effectuate a postjudgment judicial remedy, a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.”

In other words, debt collectors cannot discuss your debt with anyone except for you, your attorney, consumer reporting agencies, the original creditor of the debt and their attorney, or the attorney representing the debt collector.

FDCPA §805(c) states:

“(c) Ceasing communication

If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except --

(1) to advise the consumer that the debt collector's further efforts are being terminated;
(2) to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor; or
(3) where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.”

This means that, when you ask a debt collector to stop contacting you about a debt, they can only contact you again to tell you they are stopping collection efforts or they plan to sue you.

Debt collectors cannot harass or abuse you

FDPCA §806 states:

“A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:

(1) The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.

(2) The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.

(3) The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of section 1681a(f) or 1681b(3)1 of this title.

(4) The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt.

(5) Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.

(6) Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity.”

Simply put, debt collectors cannot harass you. Here are some specific debt collection methods that are considered harassment under the FDCPA:

  • Threatening to physically harm a person, their reputation, or their property
  • Using profanity or vulgar language with the intent to hurt
  • Publishing information about someone who supposedly refuses to pay a debt (except for reporting to a consumer reporting agency)
  • Advertising a debt for sale in order to get someone to pay it off
  • Calling non-stop with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass the person on the other line
  • Failing to give full disclosure that they are a debt collector when they call

It's pretty clear when a debt collector has bad intentions and is willing to go to extreme measures to collect on a debt. Keep all records of your communications with debt collectors in case you need to use them to defend yourself in the future.

Debt collectors cannot lie to you

FDCPA §807 states:

“A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:

(1) The false representation or implication that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof.

(2) The false representation of --

>(A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or

(B) any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt.

(3) The false representation or implication that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney.

(4) The representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action.

(5) The threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken.

(6) The false representation or implication that a sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the consumer to --

(A) lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt; or

(B) become subject to any practice prohibited by this subchapter.

(7) The false representation or implication that the consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer.

(8) Communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.

(9) The use or distribution of any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or which creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval.

(10) The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.

(11) The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.

(12) The false representation or implication that accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers for value.

(13) The false representation or implication that documents are legal process.

(14) The use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector's business, company, or organization.

(15) The false representation or implication that documents are not legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer.

(16) The false representation or implication that a debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency as defined by section 1681a(f) of this title.”

In other words, debt collectors are in violation of the FDCPA if they:

  • Pretend to be a member of any US government agency or organization
  • Lie about the amount or legal status of a debt
  • Claim that you are committing a crime for not paying off your debt
  • Threaten to arrest you if you don't pay off the debt
  • Threaten to take legal action that they cannot, or do not plan to, take
  • Use fake legal documents
  • Lie or use deceptive means to get you to pay a debt
  • Lie or use deceptive means to get your information
  • Fail to disclose in their initial communication with you, either in writing or over the phone, that they are a debt collector attempting to collect a debt
  • Use a different business name to confuse you

As you can see, there are many ways that a debt collector can violate the FDCPA. If you are a victim of any of these unfair debt collection practices in Kentucky, you may be eligible for compensation of up to $1,000 per FDCPA violation.

How to sue a collection agency

If you've been sued by a debt collection agency that violated the FDCPA in their attempts to collect your debt, you should consider filing a counterclaim into the case.

As we mentioned before, you may be entitled to compensation if the debt collector has used any abusive means to get you to pay a debt. You can submit any evidence of the unfair collection methods, along with the counterclaim, to the court.

Answer a debt collection lawsuit in Kentucky

Follow these three steps to respond to a debt lawsuit in Kentucky:

  1. Respond to each claim listed in the Complaint document. You can admit, deny, or deny due to a lack of knowledge. Most attorneys suggest that you deny as many allegations as possible. This forces the debt collector to work harder because they have to gather all the necessary documentation to prove the debt is actually yours.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses. These are legal reasons that the debt collector doesn't have a case against you. A common affirmative defense to raise in a debt collection lawsuit is the statute of limitations. If the debt is past the statute of limitations, then the collector has run out of time to sue you for the debt. If this is true, the case will be dismissed.
  3. File the Answer with the court, and send a copy to the debt collector's attorney. Make sure to file before the deadline, which is 14-35 days, depending on which state you live. Make a copy to send to the attorney representing the debt collector via USPS-certified mail. You should also request a return receipt so you can prove that you properly sent the Answer to the opposing party.

Check out this video to learn more about how to respond to a debt lawsuit:

When it comes to debt in Kentucky, you must know your rights. Even if your situation is complicated there is always a way to handle the situation. Understand the tools at your disposal, and work to get yourself out of whatever hole you have dug yourself into.

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