George Simons | December 02, 2022
Summary: Are debt collectors coming after you for past due balances? Find out if the statute of limitations is your best defense.
Creditors usually begin the debt collection process 30 days after a payment's due date has passed with no payments made by the debtor. At this point, you may start receiving numerous calls, letters, or emails from the creditor.
If you fail to pay, the creditor may try other debt collection measures, such as selling your debt to collection agencies. This usually happens 180 days after a payment's due date has passed.
Third-party collection agencies may try to collect on the debt indefinitely even after the statute of limitations has run out. The statute of limitations is a window of time for a creditor or debt collector to seek legal action against you for an unpaid debt. If the statute of limitations has passed, the creditor will be barred from filing a collection suit against you.
In Missouri, the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of debt.
Missouri Statute of Limitations
Deadline in Years
5 (money/property), 10
Debt on Account
Here are some essential tips to guide you if a debt collector contacts you after the statute of limitations has expired.
Don't acknowledge your ownership of the debt. Some debt collectors may call you knowing very well that the statute of limitations has passed and trick you into acknowledging that the debt is yours. Unfortunately, acknowledging the debt can reset the statute of limitations, making it easier for the creditor to seek legal action against you.
In such a case, you should request the debt collector to send you a written validation notice. A written validation notice contains the original creditor's name, the amount owed, and the date you breached the debt contract. The Federal Trade Commission requires debt collectors to provide debtors with a written notice within five days after the initial request.
Suppose an old debt has been transferred from one debt collection agency to another. In that case, debt collectors can easily make a mistake and contact you even after the statute of limitations has passed. For this reason, ensure you verify that the debt belongs to you and if the statute of limitations has expired.
If the statute of limitations has expired, you can send the debt collector a cease communication letter. After sending the letter, the collection agency should stop contacting you about the debt.
Don't make a payment agreement with the creditor. Making a payment agreement with the creditor isn't always advisable because it could reset the statute of limitations on your debt. After this happens, the creditor will be free to seek legal action against you.
If you decide to make a payment agreement with the creditor, ensure that the agreement is in writing. Most of the time, the creditor may advise you to repay part of the debt, and in return, they'll forgive the remaining amount.
But before accepting the offer, ensure everything is in writing. If you fail to do so, the creditor may claim that you made a partial payment of the debt which reset the statute of limitations on your debt.
Some people believe it's their moral obligation to clear all outstanding debts even after the statute of limitations has expired. But, on the other hand, others feel like they don't need to pay off a debt after the statute of limitations has expired.
It would be best if you considered a few things before deciding whether to pay or ignore a time-barred debt. For instance, if you start making partial payments to an old debt, it could reset the statute of limitations, giving the debt collector a chance to sue you.
For this reason, if you decide to pay off old debt, ensure you pay it in full or make a payment agreement in writing with the debt collector. Suppose you don't want to pay off old debt; remember that failure to pay can affect your credit score for up to seven years regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired or not.
This can also prevent you from applying for a mortgage, credit card, student, and personal loan. On the other hand, the good thing about not paying an old debt after the statute of limitations has expired is that legally you don't owe the creditor any money. Moreover, the outstanding debt will be removed from your credit report after seven years.
Some debt collectors or creditors may file a collection suit against you outside the statute of limitations. In such a case, you'll have no option but to respond to the court summons. To do this, you'll need to file an answer to the court either in person or by mail.
Remember, you'll need to file an answer within a stipulated period. Missouri debt collection laws give you up to 30 days from the day you received notice of the lawsuit to file an Answer to the court.
If you need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit, SoloSuit can help you file an answer to the court in three easy steps. First, you can use SoloSuit to draft a response by simply answering a few questions, and the software will generate an Answer document for you.
After that, you can either print the document and file it in court by yourself or let a SoloSuit attorney review the document to ensure it meets all requirements. The attorney will then file it on your behalf at a small fee.
Remember, don't fail to respond to a debt collections summons even if the statute of limitations has passed. If you fail to respond or appear in court, the creditor may request the court to enter a default judgment against you, and the judge will most likely rule in favor of the creditor.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
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.