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Statute of Limitations on Debt in New Jersey

Hannah Locklear | December 13, 2023

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: In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on mortgage debt, medical debt, credit card debt, and state tax debt is six years. If you’ve been sued for debt in New Jersey, you have 35 days to respond before a default judgment can be ordered against you. Use SoloSuit to respond to your case and use the expired NJ statute of limitations as a defense.

If you are unable to pay a debt and you go into default, then a creditor or debt collector can bring you to court in an attempt to get their money back. More than one in four New Jersey residents have debt in collections, but what most consumers do not realize is that there is a limit on how long they can legally be sued for a debt.

Debts become time-barred after the statute of limitations has expired. Every state has a different time period on its statute of limitations. In most states, the statute of limitations ranges from four to six years, but it can be as long as 20 years. After the statute of limitations has expired, you can no longer be brought to court for the debt.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you should know about the statute of limitations on debt in New Jersey.

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Statute of Limitations in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on debt depends on the type of debt that it is. According to New Jersey Revised Statutes, §2A:14-1 states:

“Every actions at law. . .for recovery upon a contractual claim or liability, express or implied, not under seal, or upon an account other than one which concerns the trade or merchandise between merchant and merchant, their factors, agents and servants, shall be commenced within 6 years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued.”

In other words, the NJ statutes of limitations on mortgage debt, medical debt, credit card debt, and state tax debt is six years. This means that if you haven’t been active on an account in six or more years, your creditor and debt collectors cannot sue you for it.

Similarly, New Jersey Revised Statutes §2A:14-4 states:

"Every action at law for rent or arrears of rent, founded upon a lease under seal, every action at law upon a single or penal bill under seal for the payment of money only, upon an obligation under seal conditioned for the payment of money only, upon a recognizance or upon an award under the hands and seals of arbitrators for the payment of money only shall be commenced within 16 years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued.”

This means that the statute of limitations on rental debt is 16 years in New Jersey.

The table below further outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debts in New Jersey:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in New Jersey

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Medical 6 years
Mortgage 6 years
State Tax 6 years
Open account 6 years
Written contracts 6 years
Oral contracts 6 years
Judgment 20 years
Source: N.J. Stat. § 2A:14-1 and § 2A:14-5

It’s important to understand that, although you cannot be brought to court for a debt with an expired statute of limitations, a debt collector can still pursue you for it.

When you make a payment on a debt, you’re going to restart the clock on the statute of limitations. Debt collectors may reach out about a debt and prompt you to pay it off, knowing that they can’t sue you for it because the statute of limitations has already expired. Don’t fall for this trap. Always check your state’s laws before sending money to a debt collector.

You may not have your wages garnished after a debt is passed the statute of limitations, but your credit report may continue to reflect the debt for up to seven years.

Now, let’s look at an example.

Example: Steve is being sued by LVNV Funding New Jersey for an old credit card debt. After some investigating, Steven discovers that he hasn’t made any payments on the account for more than seven years. Since the statute of limitations on credit card debt is six years in New Jersey, Steven has a strong case against LVNV. He uses SoloSuit to draft and file an Answer to the lawsuit, denying most of the claims and using the expired statute of limitations as one of his affirmative defenses. When LVNV Funding’s lawyers receive the Answer, they voluntarily dismiss the case and cease collection efforts.

If you are unsure if your debt is time-barred, then you might consider sending a Debt Validation Letter to the collector. This forces them to prove the debt is valid and not time-barred. Keep reading to learn more.

Respond to debt collection letters

Debt collectors are legally allowed to call you, text you, send you emails or letters in the mail, and even reach out via social media. If you would like this contact to stop, try sending a Debt Validation Letter.

This document is known to stop debt collectors in their tracks, especially collectors who are trying to collect on a time-barred debt. They will legally be required to end contact with you until they can formally validate the debt, including the amount, your liability for it, and more.

We recommend sending your Debt Validation Letter by certified mail to get a notification that it was received. This can be used in court as a receipt should they continue to contact you.

When you request debt verification from the debt collector, they must send you proof that the bill is yours. If the bill is not yours, then you will have 30 days to dispute it. If the debt is yours, but past the statute of limitations, you can submit this proof to the court.

Check out this video to learn more about how a Debt Validation Letter can help you beat debt collectors in New Jersey:

New Jersey collection laws can protect you

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, known as the FDCPA, is a set of rules that third-party debt collectors must follow when attempting to collect on a debt. Under the FDCPA debt collectors cannot:

  • Threaten to sue you if you don’t pay on a debt that has passed the statute of limitations
  • Harass you
  • Lie in an attempt to have you pay a debt
  • Call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Threaten you with jail time
  • Lie about your debt in any manner
  • Tell you that you owe more than you do
  • Pretend to be law enforcement or government officials

Don't get pushed around by debt collectors. Respond with SoloSuit.

Respond to a debt lawsuit in New Jersey

If you’ve been sued for debt in New Jersey, you have 35 days to respond to the lawsuit before a default judgment can be ordered by the court, meaning you lose automatically. With a default judgment, collectors can garnish your wages, seize your property, and freeze your bank accounts.

Avoid a default judgment by responding to the case immediately after you are notified of it.

Follow these three steps to respond to a debt lawsuit in New Jersey:

  1. Respond to each claim listed in the Complaint. The Complaint document lists each claim being made against you. You should respond to each one in corresponding order. You can admit, deny, or deny due to lack of knowledge. Most attorneys recommend denying as many claims as possible in order to force the debt collector to prove them.

  2. Assert your affirmative defenses. These are any legal reasons you should not be held liable for the claims. For example, you can list the expired statute of limitations as an affirmative defense, and if valid, the case will most likely be dismissed.

  3. File the Answer with the court, and send a copy to the opposing lawyer. Once you’ve drafted your Answer, file it with the court before the deadline (35 days in New Jersey). You also need to send a copy to the opposing lawyer via certified mail with a return receipt requested.

Draft and file an Answer to your New Jersey debt lawsuit in minutes.

This video breaks these three steps down in detail:

To learn more, check out our guide on How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in New Jersey.

How long does judgment last in NJ?

New Jersey Revised Statutes §2A:14-5 states:

“A judgment in any court of record in this state may be revived by proper proceedings or an action at law may be commenced thereon within 20 years next after the date thereof, but not thereafter.”

This means that a judgment lasts 20 years in New Jersey. For example, if a debt collector has sued you and the court ordered a judgment against you, the collector has 20 years to take further action with that judgment (such as wage garnishment or putting a lien on your property).

Facing financial challenges can be overwhelming, but you don't have to navigate them alone. The Debt Lawyer specializes in offering comprehensive bankruptcy solutions for residents of New Jersey and New York with a team of seasoned team of legal professionals dedicated to providing personalized guidance every step of the way. Whether you're considering filing for bankruptcy or just seeking clarity about your financial situation, you have resources.

Reduce your debt in New Jersey

Although one of your debts may be past the statute of limitations, you may have other debts as well. It can feel overwhelming to examine your debt, but you may be able to turn around your entire debt situation if you do. There are various debt payoff strategies that you can choose from. Consider one of the following options.

Consolidate your debt

Combining your debt into one manageable payment can make it easier to pay off your debts. This essentially means you will be able to pay off all of your existing debts and turn them into one single payment. This may help to reduce your interest and make it easier to pay it off sooner.

If you do not have a great credit score due to your debts, then you may need a cosigner to qualify for your new debt consolidation loan. Even if you may be able to qualify on your own, a co-signer may be able to help you obtain a lower interest rate. Always be careful with a debt consolidation loan because if you fall behind on your payments it can dramatically affect your credit.

Refinance your debt

Although most people think of refinancing as something that you do with a home, you can also refinance an auto or student loan. Refinancing is simply the practice of replacing your old loan with a new loan. You will also be given a new interest rate and terms. This can help you to reduce your interest rate which may lower your monthly payment.

When it comes to federal student loan debt, there is no statute of limitations. This is why you might consider refinancing your student loans in some situations.

It is good to note that with refinancing you will be restarting your repayment over again. This might give you lower payments, but with a longer term. If you decide to refinance federal student loans, then you will also forfeit the option to participate in repayment or forgiveness programs.

Transfer your balance of file for bankruptcy

As a last resort, you can either attempt to transfer your balance to a new credit card or declare bankruptcy. Declaring bankruptcy should only be done in cases where you are struggling with multiple unmanageable debts that are nowhere near the statute of limitations.

Your other option of a balance transfer may offer you a longer time to pay off your debt. This may be able to offer you a 0% introductory APR for anywhere from 12 to 21 months. The problem lies in if you cannot pay your debt once the time period is over. This may simply put you right back where you started.

Settle your debt for less

Finally, if you’ve been sued for debt in New Jersey, you can reach out to the creditor or debt collector at any stage of the lawsuit process and negotiate a settlement offer.

Many creditors and collectors are willing to settle for less than you owe. In fact, the average consumer who works with a debt settlement company can settle their debt for just 50% of the original amount.

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, can help you start the debt settlement negotiation process and save thousands.

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