This is the big question when a potential client calls our office for a consultation. It’s usually the first question that we get asked in every consult for a Credit Card Lawsuit case. What is the Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt in Pennsylvania? We’ll answer that question in a minute but first we want you to know that the Statute of Limitations is rarely an issue on a debt collector lawsuit.
The answer is four (4) years… in most cases. Claims based upon Discover Bank or Capital One accounts may be subject to a three (3) year statute of limitation. The next question is “When do the four years start?” It starts thirty (30) days from the date of the last payment on the account…in most cases. (Please know that SOL is not the only defense available to you on a credit card/collection lawsuit, in fact, it is rarely used… see more info below). There are instances where a payment may not extend the statute of limitations, but those circumstances are better discussed in an attorney-client consultation.
Statute of Limitations Questions?
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In real life, though, what does this mean? Many people ask if this Statute of Limitations prevents the Credit Card companies or Collection Agencies from filing lawsuits. The answer is NO! They can still file the lawsuit against you, it’s up to you to properly defend it. You must exercise your rights, in writing, or you will be subject to a default judgment. This is most typically done by hiring a consumer attorney to defend you. We can’t stress enough that you should not represent yourself on any debt collection lawsuits.
A Statute of Limitations defense is a very strong defense. If you can show that the last payment on the account was more than 4 years ago, (or three years on specific accounts) then you have an excellent chance at prevailing on a Credit Card or Junk Debt Buyer case and you potentially have a claim against the debt collector for its illegal lawsuit.
The great thing about the Statute of Limitations defense is that it is pretty easy to prove. Between the credit card or collection agency records (if they have them) and your bank statements or a copy of a current credit report, a Statute of Limitations defense can be readily shown in most instances. The unfortunate aspect of this defense is that it typically gets presented at the trial, meaning that you or your attorney have to make a court appearance to enter this defense. On the other hand, the great thing about an SOL defense is that it gives you the right to sue the collector. Think about that for a minute…the collector sued you, but it was too late in its filing, so now you can sue them. We handle claims against the collector for free! These claims are pursued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The common misnomer regarding credit card cases is that if the last payment was within the last four years, then you are going to lose. That belief is as false as can be. In our experience, the SOL is used on less than five (5) percent of the cases that we defend. There are several other defenses that are available and some that are actually more important. Standing, lack of privity, failure to supply documents, securitization and others are some of the defenses that we use every day, outside of the SOL.
If you have a credit card company or a collection agency attempting to collect a debt from you, or, if you have a specific Statute of Limitations question regarding collection claims, please contact our office at 412-348-8600 or send an email to Attorney Greg Artim