Your good credit is about to take flight, and you don’t even know it yet. If some of your debts are particularly old, you’re in luck.
In California and in many states, (you can look them up) the statutes of limitation, or the amount of time allowed for another party to sue you, are sometimes shorter than you think.
For most debts in California, the statutes of limitation are only four (4) years from the breach of contract. You are in breach of contract from the first month you stop paying. Now, this is not exactly a great strategy for getting out of debt. If you’re planning to use this as a strategy to get out of debt then you’re probably in for a disappointment. A bankruptcy is a better choice if you have a significant amount of debt and if the debt is not very old yet.
Usually one or a couple of creditors will sue you and obtain a money judgment against you and once that happens, the creditors with judgments have now extended their statutes of limitations to up to twenty (20) years in California.
However, for those that didn’t sue you, or in rare cases, where no one has sued you, then you’re in luck. But as I said, it’s relatively rare that no one sues you at all, if you have had a significant number of credit cards and/or medical bills in the past.
It’s also tough to gauge if you haven’t been sued because you might think, well I’ve never received a summons and complaint before, also known as service of process, so, therefore, you think no one has sued you. Think again. Many times people have been sued and they didn’t even know it. If you were divorced and had to move, if you lost your job and couldn’t afford the mortgage or rent where you were living, if the job you found was required you to move to a different state, if you maybe had that happen more than once or twice, then the creditor didn’t know where to deliver the summons and complaint and probably served the new tenant at your old apartment or served the new owner at your former home. Sometimes even if you tell a creditor your new address, when they send it to their own attorneys, they somehow conveniently forget to tell their attorneys that you told the creditor your new address. At least, that’s what the attorneys will say and it’s probably true.
So you must do a check of the courts where you were used to live to make sure that you haven’t been sued. Most of the courts can be accessed online. Riverside, San Diego, Orange, LA and San Bernardino County courts are available online although some charge fees for name searches but usually it’s a small fee.
Just because a creditor hasn’t sued you and the statute of limitations has passed, does not mean that collection agencies will not blow up your phone and harass you all day begging or threatening you to pay the debts. However, if they have truly missed the statute of limitations, you can send them an appropriate letter and the matter is done.
You do have to be certain of when you quit paying though. If you’re wrong and they still have time left, they may at that point file the lawsuit. I remember one client who had a joint account with his wife, but they divorced, however, she kept paying the account for another six (6) before she quit, so the client had the date wrong by six (6) months. Also, and this is indeed rare, a creditor or collection agent might falsify records to show additional payments later in order to extend the statute of limitations. If you’ve moved a couple times then you might not be able to prove them wrong if you cannot locate your records. At that point a bankruptcy might be the best solution, call me if you need one, Call 951-200-3613 for a free bankruptcy consultation.
But if your creditors and collections truly missed the statutes of limitation then by writing to them and saying: “Hey, you missed the statute of limitations, and stop calling me.” Then they have to stop calling. And if you’re right about the correct amount of time having passed since you last made a payment, then they can’t sue you either.
But sometimes what they’ll do is to sell the account to a different collection agency and you will hear from them in a month or two later instead. Send them the same kind of letter.
For more information I would like to refer you to the best guide on how to write letters like this and no doubt you’ll probably need other letters that you can write and this guide tells you exactly how. I wish I could say that I wrote it, but the information is fantastic, clear, easy to use and affordable. For the Attorney’s Guide to Credit Repair, Click Here.