Statute of Limitations on Debt in Georgia: How Much Time Do Creditors Have to Sue?
The statute of limitations on debt in Georgia is the amount of time a creditor has to take legal action against a debtor for overdue payments.
Overview of Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection in Georgia
Under Georgia statute, if a debt collector intends to collect a debt or sue you in court, they have a set period in which they have to do it. This is called the statute of limitations. If the debtor does not collect their debt within that period, you will have a legal defense on that time-barred debt.
You should note that the statute of limitations applicable to existing debt depends on the type of lawsuit a debt collector files and the Georgia statute under which they file their suit.
In Georgia, a debt collection lawsuit is a breach of contract suit, and hence it needs to be filed within six months from the date of default. If it is filed later than six months after the default date, it will be a time-barred debt, and the statute of limitations defense may apply.
The statute of limitations period usually commences on the date you first defaulted on payments and never caught up. It is important to note that any new promises to pay the debt or subsequent payments may affect the statute of limitations period.
Under the Georgia statute, new promises to pay the debt or subsequent payments are referred to as renewing the statute of limitations. As such, it is not advisable to make any payments on old debts as it could place you in legal jeopardy even if you have good intentions.
Georgia Statute of Limitations on Debt and Debt Collectors
In Georgia, debt collection laws are enacted to protect debtors from creditors. One of the most important is the statute of limitations, determining how long creditors can pursue legal action towards collecting an unpaid debt.
Usually, when creditors are not paid, they can file a case in court against a debtor. If successful, they can legally collect the debt through wage garnishments, or they can seize bank accounts or other property and assets.
Still, the Georgia statute of limitations, just like those of many other states, is intended to provide a reasonable period for debt collectors and creditors to bring a civil suit against a debtor.
In most instances, the statute of limitations period on unpaid debts commences on the date of the last payment made by the debtor. This is critical as the debt collector, or debt collection companies often get debtors to pay a small amount of money towards their debt settlement. If they are successful, the statute of limitations will reset based on the last payment made.
If you have any problems with debt collection agencies, you need to contact bankruptcy lawyers in Cartersville. At the law offices of Bournakis & Mitchell P.C., we provide legal advice and a first-time free consultation on debt relief and other debt collection issues you may have.
What You Need to Know About Georgia’s Debt Collection Laws: Fair Debt Collection Practices
Georgians are some of the most indebted populations in the United States. These debts range from student loan debt, mortgage loans, bank loans, medical debt, and utility bills, among others, that may result in a debtor being hounded by collectors.
Suppose you have a large amount of debt and fall behind. In that case, you may start receiving phone calls or letters in the mail from the original creditors, debt collector, or a collection agency attempting to recover unpaid debts.
If the contact is coming from an entity rather than the original creditor, it is essential to know that you have some rights and protections under federal law as a debtor.
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects people from harassment from a debt collector who may engage in unwarranted actions. Some of the protections include:
- When the debt collector makes first contact, they have to declare that they are a debt collection agency.
- If a lawyer represents you, the debt collector will contact them directly.
- They will have to provide their contact information.
- They cannot engage in unfair or deceptive practices.
- Collectors are forbidden from calling after 9:00 pm or before 8:00 am local time.
- They need to verify what is owed and send a written notice within five days. The notice will have to include specific information or be deemed invalid.
- The collector has to stop contacting you at work if you request them to.
- Debt collectors are not allowed to abuse or harass you by threatening to sell the debt, calling you repeatedly, embarrassing you, using profane language, or threatening violence.
- They have to stop contacting you if you request them to.
It is important to note that while the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act provides some protection, it will not prohibit everything. For instance, it does not apply to calls or any other type of contact from the original creditor.
It is also critical to note that you could be taken to court even if you do not believe the debt is valid. If the civil judgment upholds your defense and holds the debt as invalid, then you will be in the clear.
However, civil judgments that go against you may result in consequences that may allow the creditors to take action to recover what is owed. They may be allowed to garnish wages or take money from your bank account to recover unpaid debts.
We always advise that you turn up at the court hearing of your case as absence could be interpreted as admission to being responsible for the debt.
Given the complexities in the law, it is critical to contact a skilled and experienced attorney before making any written promise, making a partial payment, agreeing to a payment schedule, writing a promissory note, or anything that may be legally binding.
This is critical to avoid resetting the multiple-year statute of limitations on your debt.
If you owe money to a creditor, contact the law offices of Bournakis & Mitchell, P.C., today, and we may be able to provide legal advice on how the Georgia statute of limitations applies to your case.
We have experienced bankruptcy lawyers in Rome who know all about oral contracts, written contracts, and fair debt collection practices. We may be able to help you deal with debt collection agencies, credit card companies, or any other creditors.
Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt in Georgia
The Georgia statute of limitations on credit card debt is six years. Upon six years since a default expiry, the debt will become time-barred. This means that a creditor or collector will not be able to go to court to obtain civil judgments compelling the debtor to pay.
Nonetheless, time-barred does not mean that what is owed cannot be collected, only that you cannot be sued in court for it. If you are confident that the six-year statute of limitations has expired, you can use it to defend against repaying any money owed.
Since the statute of limitations starts again when you promise to pay, make partial payments, or charge using the account, you should be fine as long as you do not do such actions.
Given that there are complexities, such as the multiple-year statute of limitations starting at zero, it is crucial to work with an attorney or law firm before taking any action towards your debt.
By working with Bournakis & Mitchell P.C., you will get the advice you need so that you will not complicate your debt situation by triggering the restart of the statute of limitations.
GA Statute of Limitations on Debt
The Georgia statute of limitations has timelines that will differ depending on the type of debt to be collected.
If the creditors do not collect their debts in the given period, they may lose the right to collect them as they will be time-barred. The different timelines for the different types of debts are:
- Promissory notes – four-year statute
- Oral contract – four-year statute
- Written contracts – six-year statute
- Credit cards – six-year statute
The multiple-year statute of limitations runs as long as you do not take actions that trigger a restart of the clock.
While time-expired debt cannot be taken to court for civil judgments, collectors will still try to collect. Moreover, the money owed will also still show on your credit report for at least seven years, even if it has already expired under Georgia law.
What Can a Georgia Creditor Do to Me After the Judgment?
Georgia statutes offer the creditor some substantial leverage against a debtor. They can seize money from a bank account, garnish wages, put a lien on your car, and even take away your car.
The first legal step you can expect from a creditor is being taken to court. It is critical to go to court to answer the charge as the courts may assume legal responsibility for the debt if you fail to turn up.
Once a judgment goes against you, you can expect to be slapped with the federal reserve prime rate and an additional 3% or by the rate agreed upon when entering into the contract.
Contact Bournakis & Mitchell, P.C. today if you face challenges with a creditor or debt collection agency. We may assist you in getting your creditor off your back as we understand Georgia’s law on debt collection. We may also be able to help you get debt relief so that you can begin to live the peaceful life you’ve always dreamed of.
How to Manage Loans in Georgia
If you are feeling overwhelmed with debt, you can consolidate your debt. Debt consolidation loans allow you to lump all of your loans (auto loan debt, credit card debt, medical debt) into one payment. This makes it easier for you to keep track of your payments and also helps to reduce the amount of interest you are paying on your loans.
There are two types of debt consolidation loans: secured and unsecured. A secured loan requires collateral, such as a car or a house, which the bank can seize if you do not make your payments. An unsecured loan does not require collateral but typically has a higher interest rate.
If you are struggling to make your monthly payments, you may want to consider a debt relief program. Georgia debt relief programs include Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt consolidation loans, and credit counseling. Speak with an attorney to see which program is best for you.
Do I Have to Be Notified if a Debt Is Time-Barred?
Once a debt becomes time-barred, the creditor or collection agency does not have to inform you of the same, but they cannot sue you in court. However, they can still contact you for payment.
If you have debt collection issues with your creditor or debt collection agency, you need to contact the law offices of Bournakis & Mitchell, P.C., today. Our attorneys will help you to understand the statutes governing debt collection in Georgia and will work to protect your rights.