Each state has a law that defines how long a debt is legally enforceable. After the period known as the statute of limitations has expired, creditors and debt collectors cannot use the court to force you to pay the debt. You can use an expired statute of limitations as a defense if you're ever sued for a debt that's expired.
While the law prevents you from being sued for expired debts, the law doesn't prevent collectors from continuing to contact you to collect the debt. Debt collectors are within their rights to continue calling you, even though debt is no longer legally enforceable. Fortunately, you can stop these calls. Use this letter to let collectors know the statute of limitations has passed and you no longer wish to be contacted regarding the debt.
Sample Letter for Statute of Limitations Expired Debts
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is in response to your phone call about the letter dated January 15, 2016, concerning the above-referenced account number.
I have checked with my state attorney general and confirmed that the statute of limitations on this type of debt has expired. Therefore, if you choose to pursue this matter in court, I will be forced to show proof that the statute of limitations has expired.
Let this letter serve as notification that I do not wish to be contacted about this debt any further except to be notified that future collection efforts are terminated. Any other communication regarding this debt will be taken as a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Tips for Sending Your Letter
Don't acknowledge the debt or make any promises to pay in your letter. These actions could restart the statute of limitations, giving the debt collector additional time to file a lawsuit against you.
Be careful that you don't confuse the statute of limitations with the credit reporting time limit. The statute of limitations is a state-based law that affects whether a debt collector can sue you. The credit reporting time limit is a federal law that limits the amount of time a debt can be listed on your credit report (seven years in most cases).
Customize the bold parts of the letter with the information pertaining to your collection account. Use your credit report or recent statements from the collector to get the correct account information.
Send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested. This gives you proof of the letter's mailing and receipt. If the debt collector continues to contact you after they've received your letter (beyond the one additional time allowed by law), you can proof of the letter's receipt to file a complaint or lawsuit against the debt collector for further unlawful collection action.
Keep a copy of the letter for your records. You may need to send the message to another debt collector in the future.