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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Utah

George Simons | March 25, 2023

Summary: Worried that you'll never be able to pay that old debt? You might not have to. Learn all you need to know about the statute of limitations in Utah and find out if you don't have to pay those old debts.

If you are receiving frequent phone calls and letters from creditors seeking repayment for an outstanding debt, it is important to determine the age of the alleged debt. Why? Because there are laws that provide a finite period of time in which a debt collection lawsuit can be filed in Utah. The time period is known as the “statute of limitations.”

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the time period in which a creditor, or debt collection agency, can file a lawsuit against you to try and recover an outstanding debt. If the statute of limitations in Utah has expired, both creditors and debt collection agencies are prohibited from filing suit against you in relation to the outstanding debt.

The statute of limitations will vary both by the type of debt and the state in which you reside. For example, the statute of limitations for a debt collection lawsuit in Virginia is different from a debt collection lawsuit filed in Utah.

In certain circumstances, the time period for taking legal action will be dictated by the specific language in a contractual agreement. For example, many credit card agreements feature a “choice of law” provision that designates a particular state law that will apply if there is a dispute.

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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Utah

Utah Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years





Open Accounts


Source: Findlaw

In Utah, the statute of limitations for any signed written contract, obligation, or liability is six years. For unwritten (verbal) contracts, obligations, or liabilities, the statute of limitation for an unpaid debt expires after four years. Unpaid debt from open accounts for goods, wares, merchandise, and services rendered or for the price of any article charged on a store account has a statute of limitation of four years, after which debt collectors can no longer utilize the legal system to recover the debt.

In most instances, the proverbial clock for the statute of limitations begins to run when a contract is purportedly breached. For example, if the debt is related to an unpaid credit card, the date of the breach is either when the last payment was received or the date of the last charge, whichever is later.

So, for example, if the last time you used your credit card was September 22, 2008, the statute of limitations would have expired on September 22, 2014, unless something else caused the statute of limitations to restart or be put on pause.

However, a breach may occur based on certain conditions within the contract. For example, an auto loan typically requires the purchaser to maintain insurance on the vehicle and a breach occurs the day the insurance lapses. Carefully review your contract for other conditions that may trigger a breach.

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Tricks and Tactics Used by Debt Collectors on Old Debts

Unfortunately, many debt collectors will use various tricks and tactics to try and recover on a debt, even if that debt is extremely old and barred by the statute of limitations. Here is an overview of some of the common tricks and tactics used by debt collectors when pursuing payment on an old debt:

  • Threatening to file a lawsuit against you, even when the statute of limitations period has expired.
  • Threatening you with a prison sentence (spoiler alert: you cannot go to jail for failing to pay a consumer debt).
  • Threatening you with foreclosure on your home
  • Contacting your friends, family members, and work colleagues
  • Misleading you by saying that a small payment toward the debt will effectively restore your good credit. Please understand that a single small payment toward a debt will in no way impact your credit score. The only reason they want you to make a small payment is to try and restart the clock on the statute of limitations.
  • Asking you to sign a written acknowledgment that you owe the debt. Your signature on this acknowledgment effectively revives the debt and resets the clock for the statute of limitations.

Utah's Borrowing Statute

The laws in Utah are unique since there is both a general statute of limitations on debts and a statute of limitations predicated on Utah's “borrowing statute” which can be found in Section 78B-2-103 of the Utah Code.

According to this borrowing statute, any “cause of action which arises in another jurisdiction” and is barred by that state's statute of limitations is also barred in Utah. This is extremely important because we live in an interconnected world featuring multinational financial institutions. As a result, assessing an alleged breach of contract action and where that breach arose from can get quite complicated. For example, if you get a car loan through a Utah bank and you stop sending payment checks to the bank's office in Ogden, then the breach (and cause of action) is fairly straightforward. However, if someone has a credit card with a Delaware company (where most credit card companies are formed) and monthly payments are sent to Michigan (where many large credit card companies have payment processing offices), there is a strong argument any breach related to non-payment of the credit card occurred in Michigan.

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What to Do If You Are Sued on a Debt That Is Beyond the Statute of Limitations

If you are sued for a debt that is beyond the statute of limitations, it is important to understand that the responsibility falls on you to raise this issue. You need to make sure you raise the statute of limitations as a defense in your Answer responding to a debt collector's lawsuit. A lawsuit to collect a time-barred debt is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and may allow you to collect actual or statutory damages and attorney fees if it is established that the debt collector filed a lawsuit on a time-barred debt.

In Utah, a creditor or debt collection agency is afforded a finite period of time to take legal action to try and recover a debt. This finite period of time is known as the statute of limitations. In Utah, for most debts, a creditor has six years to take legal action on that unpaid debt. After the statute of limitations expires, a creditor or debt collector can no longer sue you for the debt.

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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

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