Portland, OR asked in Consumer Law, Small Claims and Collections for Oregon

Q: Statute of limitations for 10-year debt?

Hello,

I received a collection notice from a debt collector (from old phone company) for a 10-year debt. Are they within the SoL to collect? I wrote and confirmed the balance owed from 2011, but had never received a bill for this balance until last week. I haven't received any other calls or letters from the phone company nor debt collection agency.

1 Lawyer Answer
Gregory L Abbott
Gregory L Abbott
Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: Whether it is past the statute of limitations depends on a few things. First, exactly what is trying to be collecting upon? The original debt or a court judgment against you arising out of that debt? IF it ever was reduced to a court Judgment, Judgments in Oregon are good for 10 years and maybe renewed once for another 10 years. If they are trying to collect on the original debt itself without ever having gotten a Judgment on it, then it depends upon when you made the last payment - of any amount, even $1.00 - on the debt. The statute of limitations runs from then. It often is a trick of collection agencies - they try to talk you into making a payment - any payment - "to show good will". If you do, you re-start the statute of limitations, even if it has otherwise expired. The statute of limitations in Oregon on contracts is 6 years, so IF there is no court Judgment and IF you have not made ANY payment on the debt in the last 6 years, it likely is past the statute of limitations (though there are a few other ways they conceivably could try to get past it) and they can no longer collect it from you. In fact, IF it is past the statute of limitations and they are trying to collect, you may well have damage claims against them for unfair debt collection practices. Consider reviewing everything with a local collections attorney if you think you may have a case. Good luck.

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