When Debt Collectors Call, Part 7: Statutes of Limitations — NMBankruptcyBlog.com

health-care costsFrom time to time, a Guest Blogger will share voice at the New Mexico Bankruptcy Law Blog. Today, we welcome Deborah DeMack. Deborah is a former Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. A solo practitioner now in private practice in Santa Fe, NM, Ms. DeMack practices consumer law, debt collection defense, and consumer bankruptcy. She can be reached at 505.471.3302. This is part 7 of the series.

Statutes of Limitations

In New Mexico, the statute of limitations (SOL) for written contracts is 6 years, 4 years for oral contracts. For open accounts, e.g., a revolving charge or credit card account, it’s 4 years.

Significant problems arise with debt collectors — usually debt buyers — who attempt to collect on debts that are past the applicable SOL. While the consumer may not be legally obligated to pay on a debt that is past the applicable SOL, it is not illegal for a debt collector to collect or attempt to collect on an old debt. However, the debt collector may not deceive or mislead the consumer as to the legal status of the debt in at attempt to collect. Even though a consumer is not legally obligated to pay, and cannot be sued on a debt that is past the SOL, if a consumer nevertheless agrees to pay an old debt, the consumer has then “revived” the debt. A “revived” debt becomes legally enforceable — provided that the consumer was not deceived into agreeing to pay.

Next in the series is Part 8: Other Types of Illegal Debt Collection Acts

Previous posts in the series: Debt Collection Abuse and the FDCPA, To Whom Does the FDCPA Apply? What Debts are Covered?, How May a Debt Collector Contact You?, What Acts or Practices are Prohibited by the FDCPA?, How Do You Stop a Debt Collector from Contacting You?, The 30 Day Validation (Verification) Notice

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