Bloomington, IN asked in Collections and International Law for Indiana

Q: Can German SOL be applied in the US?

I received notification from The Debt Masters ( based out of California ). They recently acquired an old debt from Telekom Deutschland; a phone provider I used while stationed in Germany in 2013. To my understanding of German Civil Code BGB Section 195, the SOL has exceeded according to the documentation provided by the collection agency. If for some reason the SOL has become lulled ( examples of why is would? ) can the collection agency still enforce collection through the courts here stateside? If the German SOL does not apply, can the agency still legally enforce through the courts a foreign debt?

1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • International Law Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD

A: Generally, courts have held statutes of limitations to be laws of the forum, so that statute applied might be from the place in which you are and can legally be sued. It sounds like that's Indiana for you, so you should check with an Indiana lawyer. But, it is reasonably likely that the statute has run wherever they sue. It is even more likely that they will never sue. There is big business these days in selling and reselling stale debt where the buyer knows that it cannot enforce the debt. They buy the stale debt in huge tranches for pennies on the dollar and harass the debtors with no intention of seeking to prove the debt. I guess enough people pay, perhaps fearing that they will report to credit bureaus, that the investment is quite profitable. Until they retain a lawyer where you live, there is a very small chance they plan to enforce the debt. Congress had debated doing something to stop these con artists, and many of them are violating the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act when they threaten to do something that they have neither the ability nor the intention to do ... like suing the debtor or reporting the debt to collection reporters. But, the last election seems to have killed any such legislation. That just isn't the focus in Washington these days.

But, this is not a legal opinion, and I am not your lawyer. You'll know I'm your lawyer when we have a retainer agreement and money changes hands. Until then, I'm merely blogging to bring information and opinion to the People, and you have no more right to rely on it than the latest legal novel.

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