Owing a debt to a debt collection agency can create significant stress in your life. Whether it is credit card debt or a loan from a financial institution, an old debt can hang over your head for what feels like a long time.
In the State of Texas, debt collectors legally have only four years to collect debts from citizens. Once the statute of limitations is up, your debt becomes time-barred and you do not have to pay it back.
However, debt collectors can be very smart. These agencies use sneaky tactics to restart the clock on the statute of limitations to get borrowers to pay back their debt. They may initiate a lawsuit against you or try to revive an old debt by getting a default judgment granted. To avoid paying back time-barred debts, you will have to pursue legal action against the agency.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC
Knowing your rights when the debt collectors call you is the best way to avoid paying for old debts. If you can buy some time by not giving out financial information or making a payment on the debt, you can then take action to ensure your debt stays time-barred. Then, you can contact Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC to get honest legal advice about your situation.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has spent decades fighting against the aggressive tactics of debt collection agencies, and he has seen firsthand how they use these tactics to get people to pay back debts. He dedicates his career to protecting the rights of ordinary taxpayers and ensuring that they are not in financial hardship because of old debts and debt collectors.
With recognition from the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas, Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. has the education, experience, and skills necessary to protect your best interests.
Call our law firm today to schedule an initial consultation at 210-853-2135.
Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection
Texas has a statute of limitations of four years for collectors to collect a debt, as set out under the Texas Debt Collection Act. This statute of limitations means that collectors have four years to recover debt from a borrower or initiate a lawsuit related to the debt. If they do not make efforts to collect the debt during this time, the debt becomes time-barred.
With a time-barred debt, the debt collection agency can no longer file a lawsuit against you for the debt. However, they still reserve the right to collect this debt and you are still liable for paying back the debt.
Creditors often engage in tactics to restart the statute of limitations, such as calling you and requesting that you make a payment. They may also declare bad debts on your credit report, which can harm your credit rating.
How Debt Collectors Restart The Texas Statute of Limitations
There are certain actions debt collection agencies take to try to restart the statute of limitations on debt in Texas. Once four years have passed since the last payment date to the original creditor, they cannot sue you in court. However, they sometimes engage in practices such as:
- Calling you and requesting that you make a payment
- Getting you to acknowledge the debt over the phone
- Ask for financial information
- Tricking you into a debt repayment plan
- Offering a debt settlement amount
Collectors are known for engaging in harassing and manipulative tactics to get borrowers to pay back debt. However, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits the behaviors of collectors working for professional agencies under federal law. Also, a new Texas law introduced in 2019 prevents a debt collector from reviving the statute of limitations on unsecured debts or ‘zombie debts’.
Now, a debt collector must provide written notice to you if your debt has passed the statute of limitations and if they intend to begin collection efforts on a time-barred debt. If a debt collector contacts you and requests you to make payments on an old debt, contact a tax attorney to protect your rights.
Filing a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Texas
If a creditor files a debt collection lawsuit against you for unpaid debts, you must reply to the lawsuit within the time specified. For lawsuits filed in the Justice Court or Small Claims Court, you have just 14 days to reply to the lawsuit. If it was filed in a District Court or County Court, you have 20 days.
Often, individuals try to ignore a lawsuit hoping that it will go away with time. However, if you do not reply to a lawsuit, the debtor will request a default judgment from a judge based on evidence that you owe a debt. When a judge grants a default judgment, you are restricted from using the limitations defense, and the creditor can pursue further actions to recover the debt.
If you have received notification of a debt collection lawsuit in Texas, it is vital that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Without legal representation, it is easy to fall victim to the tricks of debt collectors.
Using The Statute of Limitations as a Defense Strategy
The statute of limitations can be used as an affirmative defense in debt collection lawsuits when the statute expires. To use this defense, you must prove that the debt collector started proceedings against you after the statute of limitations on the debt you owe had passed. If you made payments to the collection agency after the alleged last payment, the debt collectors may argue that the statute of limitations has been extended.
If this is the case, you will need to apply a different defense strategy to prevent paying back an old debt. Knowing what to say against debt collectors is difficult. They have significant experience dealing with cases like yours, so they know what to say to recover money from you. Without an in-depth knowledge of Texas law on debt collection, you will struggle to put up a fight against them.
How Long Do Debt Collectors Have To Collect a Debt in Texas? – Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC
If you have an old debt being chased by debt collectors in Texas, the best thing to do is to hire a tax attorney. Dealing with collection agencies is difficult, and they know what tactics to use to recover old debts. Even if you think that the statute of limitations has passed on your debt, it is best to hire a lawyer with experience handling debt collection cases.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has what it takes to protect you against debt collectors in Texas. If the statute of limitations has passed on your debt, we will do everything we can to prevent you from paying a single penny. Our law firm has handled hundreds of cases similar to yours, and we know how to deal with sneaky collection agencies.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC dedicates his career to protecting Texas taxpayers. He will use aggressive defense strategies to protect your best interests and ensure that you get the highest standard of legal care possible.
Contact our law firm today for an initial consultation at 210-853-2135.