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Statute of Limitations on Debt in New York

Hannah Locklear | September 13, 2023

Summary: The statute of limitations on most debt in New York is just three years. This means that creditors and debt collectors only have three years from the date of the last activity on an account to sue someone for a debt. If you've been sued for debt in New York, use SoloSuit to respond and win in court.

The total household debt for New Yorkers has reached records heights over the last few years. This is partly due to the growth in mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances.

If you're a New York resident worried about an old debt, it's essential to know that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from creditor harassment. In some cases, debt collectors seek repayment of an alleged unpaid debt after the statute of limitations has expired. The statute of limitations is a finite period that creditors or collection agencies can sue a debtor or request collection for debt.

After the statute of limitations expires, the creditor no longer has the power to file a lawsuit against you or contact you regarding an outstanding debt. This information is excellent news for consumers drowning in multiple old debts. Today, we will help you understand more about the statute of limitation in New York and how it applies to your debt.

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How long is a debt legally enforceable in New York?

Until 2022, the statute of limitations for debt in New York was six years. However, in January 2021, the New York Senate passed a bill called the Consumer Credit Fairness Act of 2021 that reduced the statute of limitations on most types of debt to just three years. This bill was officially enacted on April 7, 2022.

N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. §214-i states:

“Certain actions arising out of consumer credit transactions to be commenced within three years. An action arising out of a consumer credit transaction where a purchaser, borrower or debtor is a defendant must be commenced within three years, except as provided in section two hundred thirteen-a of this article or article 2 of the uniform commercial code or article 36-B of the general business law. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when the applicable limitations period expires, any subsequent payment toward, written or oral affirmation of or other activity on the debt does not revive or extend the limitations period.”

In other words, a creditor or debt collector only has three years (from the date of the last payment on an account) to sue someone for a debt they owe. Along with the change in the statute of limitations, the Consumer Credit Fairness Act put the following rules (and more) into place:

  • Clerk of courts must provide defendants with a proper notice that they are being sued by mailing them an official notice.
  • Defendants have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit, during which they can explain to the court that the debt expires before or during the 30-day period.
  • If the plaintiff is not the original creditor, they should obtain an affidavit from the original creditor regarding the debt that outlines when they were assigned to the account and the amount due at the time of sale. If it has passed through other collection agencies, that should be included with the correct balances forwarded.

That being said, the New York statute of limitations on mortgage debt is six years, according to N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. & R. §213(4) which states:

“Actions to be commenced within six years: An action upon a bond or note, the payment of which is secured by a mortgage upon real property, or upon a bond or note and mortgage so secured, or upon a mortgage of real property, or any interest therein.”

Some creditors may try to sue you after the expiration of the statute of limitations. You can use the statute of limitations on debt collections as a defense to avoid being forced by the courts to pay a time-barred debt.

Now let's take a look at an example.

Example: Bob had a 3-year-old credit card debt of $1,350 from American Express. He forgot about it until he received a call from an American Express agent asking him to pay the debt immediately or they would sue him. He sent a Debt Validation Letter asking them to verify the debt. On receiving the validation notice, Bob saw the last payment he had made was slightly over three years ago. Knowing his rights and the recent change in the timeline for statute of limitations on credit card debt in NY, he sent a response telling American Express that the debt had expired and they could not win a lawsuit against him.

Notably, an expired debt only means the creditor cannot sue you for the debt, but they can still follow up on it. You may continue to receive calls or emails until you take action to deal with them. To get debt collectors off your back try sending a Debt Validation Letter. This forces them to validate the debt, and if they cannot, they should cease collection efforts. This is a powerful method to stop creditors and debt collectors in their tracks. In fact, many creditors and collectors stop their attempts to collect once you request debt validation.

Learn more about sending a Debt Validation Letter in this video:

What you need to know about the statute of limitations on debt in New York

If you're the debtor, it's the duty of the creditor to know whether the New York statute of limitations on debt has run out. If the statute of limitations on debt has expired, the creditor must do the following:

  • Inform you that the statute of limitations has expired.
  • Inform you that you don't have to acknowledge owing the debt.
  • Provide information that proves prior settlement of the debt—if you had paid.
  • Let you know that the statute of limitations may restart if you acknowledge owing the debt, promise to pay the debt, or pay part of the debt.

It is unlikely that a creditor will inform you of these requirements because they want to collect their money, and many consumers make the mistake of acknowledging or paying off the debt and restarting the clock on the statute of limitations.

Statute of limitations in NY for different types of debt

The type of debt in question may affect the statute of limitations. The table below lists the statute of limitations for different types of debt in New York state:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in New York

Debt Type Deadline
Credit card 3 years
Medical 3 years
Student loan 3 year
Auto loan 3 years
Personal loan 3 years
Mortgage 6 years
Judgment 20 years
Source: N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 211, § 213, and § 214-I

In some situations, New York's statute of limitations on debt doesn't apply for debt-collection lawsuits. For instance, if the cause of action that triggered the collection suit arose in a state other than New York, then the other state's debt collection statute of limitations would apply.

Check your state's statute of limitations on debt here.

What to do if a creditor files a lawsuit against you after the statute of limitations on debt in NY expires

New York has various laws that protect you from intimidation by creditors and debt collectors. For instance, if the statute of limitations on credit card debt in NY has expired and a creditor seeks repayment of an old debt, you can file a report against them to the Office of the New York State Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.

If the creditor sues you for the debt you owe, filing an Answer in court is your first step to winning the lawsuit. Filing an Answer is your way of telling the court your defenses or reasons why the creditor shouldn't win the case. For debt collection cases, a common reason to include would be that the debt has already passed the statute of limitations. Most importantly, filing an Answer preserves your rights in the lawsuit, helping you avoid a default judgment.

You can either file an Answer in person at the courthouse with a court clerk, send it to the court clerk via mail, or file electronically if the court allows it.

SoloSuit can file your Answer for you in all 50 states.

Note that, in New York, you need to file an Answer within 10, 20, or 30 days of receiving notice of lawsuit. More specifically, the New York law states the following regarding deadlines to respond to debt collection cases:

  • If the plaintiff serves you with a Summons in person, you have 10 days to file an Answer if your case is in a city court outside of New York City.
  • If the plaintiff serves you with a Summons in person, you have 20 days to file an Answer if your case is in all other courts.
  • If the plaintiff serves you with a Summons by other means such as mail, gave it to someone who lives in your home, or left it on your door, you have 30 days to respond to the Summons.

Use the statute of limitations on debt in New York as a defense

After confirming that you're being sued for a time-barred debt, you shouldn't acknowledge or agree to pay part of the debt. This is because the statute of limitations begins when the course of action arises. For this reason, if you partially repay a time-barred debt, this action might restart the statute of limitations for the creditor.

Instead of engaging your creditors, send SoloSuit's Answer and state the reason for not paying the debt —it has passed the New York statute of limitations on debt. The court will dismiss the case once they confirm with the creditors.

For other debts that haven't expired, you can view SoloSuit's other documents to help you win your lawsuit without hiring an attorney.

Facing debt can be overwhelming, but you don't have to navigate it alone. The Debt Lawyer specializes in offering comprehensive wage garnishment and 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.

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