Can I be Sued For A Credit Card Debt After The Statute of Limitations Expired in Florida?

by Donald Petersen on January 8, 2011

Many Florida consumers have asked “Can I be sued for a credit card debt after the statute of limitations expired?” and “Can I be sued in Florida to collect a credit card account after the statute of limitations has expired?”

Technically, the answer is “yes”. A bank or debt buyer could sue a consumer to collect a consumer credit card debt after the statute of limitations but the consumer would have a complete defense to the credit card lawsuit and would probably have an adequate basis to sue the debt buyer or bank that sued to collect the credit card debt.

Although the law is on the borrower’s side if the borrower takes action immediately, Florida judges can not protect defendant borrowers from judgments and garnishments arising from time barred accounts (e.g., credit card accounts on which the statute of limitations has expired) UNLESS the defendant takes prompt action and argues the law correctly.

If the credit card borrower does nothing after receiving the collection lawsuit, the credit card issuer or debt collector that bought the charged off credit card account will probably obtain a default judgment against the borrower. This judgment will be enforceable and is often very difficult to set aside.

If a debt buyer sues to collect a consumer account which is time barred by the statute of limitations, the defendant consumer probably has a basis to sue the debt collector for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and possibly also the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. If the credit card issuer filed a lawsuit to collect a consumer credit card account (or other consumer account) arising from an account on which the statute of limitations had expired, the defendant consumer probably has a basis to sue the credit card bank for violating the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.

If the defendant borrower raises the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense at the first opportunity, the defendant will have preserved the defense. It is extremely important for Florida consumers to seek counsel immediately upon receipt of the credit card collection lawsuit because there are important strategic decisions that must be made before any response is raised in court.

As an Orlando, Florida lawyer who sues debt collectors for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and has defended many lawsuits against credit card issuers on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired, I’ve learned that few lawyers are properly prepared to argue the substantive and procedural issues which arise in these cases. The investment of time required to defend such collection cases represents a substantial investment of time with uncertain prospects of recovery.

Fortunately, the FDCPA often allows prevailing consumers to recover their actual damages including attorney fees incurred in defending the consumer against time barred lawsuits. This is not an area where a DYI approach is likely to be successful. I have argued at hearings concerning the Florida law and the statute of limitations have lasted for 2 1/2 hours.

The misinformation on the internet dominates the discussion. Why waste hours sorting through misinformation and speculation? Many Florida consumers probably pay debts that are no longer enforceable if their case was properly framed and zealously defended.

Even if the statute of limitations has not expired on an account a consumer is being sued upon, hiring a Florida lawyer to defend against a credit card collection lawsuit is often much more affordable than consumers assumed.

If you live in central Florida —- Orange County, FL (Orlando, Ocoee, Winter Park), Osceola County, FL (Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Celebration, Buena Ventura Lakes), Lake County, FL (Clermont, Mount Dora, Eustis, Leesburg, Tavares, Monte Verde, Howey-In-The-Hills), Marion County, FL (Ocala, The Villages), Putnam County, FL (Palatka), Flagler County (Palm Coast, Bunnell), Volusia County (DeLand, Daytona, Daytona Beach, Deltona, New Smyrna Beach), Seminole County, FL (Altamonte Springs, Winter Park, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Heathrow, Oviedo), Polk County, FL (Lakeland, Bartow), Hillsborough (Tampa) — you are welcome to contact my assistant or complete the Collection Agency Harassment form. I will contact you to discuss your situation — a free (to you) no obligation attorney review of your potential case and the credit card lawsuit pending against you.

Please be realistic and contact me well before any “court date” or response is due.

(C) 2011 – 2014 Donald E. Petersen
All rights reserved.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Taitz May 9, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Can you recommend an equally qualified attorney who serves palm beach county?

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Don Petersen May 9, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Michael : Thanks for contacting me. I sent you a recommendation via private email. Good luck!

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Rick July 13, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Do you know of anyone in North Florida? I’m in Tallahasse and I can’t seem to find anyone knowledgeable? Thanks.

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Don Petersen July 13, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Rick : I answered your question via an email. If the lawyer I recommended can not help you, please fill out the Collection Agency Harassment log and describe your problem so I know what your specific problems are and can better guide you to someone who can help you.
Good Luck!

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Mr. P. August 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I found your article very interesting. I have recently received a letter from a credit card company I had many many years ago. However, I reside in Tallahassee, Florida and was wondering if you could provide some assistance for me up here.

Thank you for your time.

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Don Petersen August 9, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Thanks for visiting the site. TCO’d by private reply.

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chelsea September 25, 2012 at 4:51 PM

I currently reside in CO, but my statute of limitations is up in FL where I accrued and defaulted on an installment loan. I am being sued in CO. Legal basis?

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Don Petersen November 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Chelsea & Other Readers who are being sued or threatened with lawsuits. Please consult with a consumer debt defense lawyer who practices in your local state courts. Even a “vanilla” statute of limitations defense is much more time consuming and intricate than even a lawyer who does not routinely practice in this area would imagine. Non-lawyers have minimal chance of success and a substantial likelihood of making “bad law” for everyone else. As Chelsea’s case demonstrates, the choice of law, conflict of laws, tolling periods, and even the U.S. Constitution quickly come into play in many cases.

There is no reason to “go it alone”. If a consumer debt is indeed time barred by the statute of limitations, an experienced consumer rights lawyer can often defend the case, sue the debt collector, and collect the consumer’s attorney’s fees from the debt collector (including the collection lawyer). PLEASE contact a lawyer in YOUR state.

If you need assistance finding a lawyer in your state, you are welcome to complete the “Colletion Harassment Form” on this website and I will provide you with resources to assist you in your search.

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Dustin April 4, 2013 at 12:06 AM

A collection agency is taking me to court, for a debt in florida on a credit line with a jewelry company. The purchases were made in 2007. I now live in Arkansas I’ve been here for two years. Can they still sue me?

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Donald Petersen April 21, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Dustin : Your question presents fairly complicated choice of law questions. You should consult with an Arkansas consumer debt defense lawyer about the facts of your case and your rights. I have argued choice of law questions at hearings that have lasted 2 1/2 hours to give you an idea of how complex these questions easily become. This is not an area for a consumer to attempt to represent themselves. If the account is time barred by the statute of limitations, it is probably much more affordable than you’d expect to hire an experienced Arkansas consumer attorney to defend your action and bring a subsequent action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to recoup the legal fees you incurred in defending against an out of statute debt.

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Florin October 5, 2013 at 7:36 PM

I have a debt collector that is trying to collect on a previously disputed debt from 2001. They are calling my friends and my father, they ave even tried to threaten him that they will place a lien on a car we both own. They have disclosed information about the debt to both my friends and my father. They have not contacted me directly yet. Is there anything I could do to stop this? Should I contact them?

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Donald Petersen October 15, 2013 at 7:58 AM

Florin – If this account was a child, it’d be in middle school. I recommend that you consult with a consumer rights lawyer who practices in your state. There are some judgment calls to be made and a lawyer can advise you how to document the contacts and what your rights are. Many of these zombie debt collectors are difficult to identify, locate, serve with process, and — most importantly — collect a judgment from. Unfortunately for consumers, they realize that they’re practically judgment proof and feel free to violate the law accordingly.

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Ms. C. July 16, 2014 at 7:08 PM

When looking for the statue of limitation in Florida, do you go by charge off date(closed )? I have several credit cards charged off 2009 and I have never responded to any of their letters, as I don’t have the money to pay back. But they were bought off by another collection agency recently who are harassing family/friends

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Donald Petersen July 17, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Ms. C. – I urge you to consult (privately) with a Florida FDCPA lawyer. The lawyer will need additional information to answer the ultimate question (whether the SOL in any person’s particular case has expired) and such information should be provided in a privileged setting. (So should legal advice). You are welcome to call me for a free case evaluation.

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