Statute of Limitations on Debt in Texas
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The statute of limitations to collect debt is Texas is generally (4) years. This is for a breach of contract claim. When this four year clock starts to run is debatable. Usually it is the last payment date to the original creditor. For instance, if you were paying Bank of America and stopped paying 5 years ago, and now you are being sued by a debt buyer like Portfolio Recovery then you would have a good statute of limitations defense.
The clock stops when the lawsuit is filed, not when you are served with the lawsuit. For instance, if you are served 4.5 years after your last payment, but the case was filed 3.9 years after your last payment, then you likely do not have a statute of limitations defense.
The statute of limitations is a defense that must be proved by you. Simply saying that your last payment was more than 4 years ago is not enough. You typically need evidence. For instance, your credit report may be a good piece of evidence.
Try checking your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. You are allowed one free credit report per year from each major bureau pursuant to Federal Law. Check to see when the account was charged off and subtract 180 days from this date. This is a good indication of when your last payment was. You can also try checking old bank statements or payment records.
If you have been sued on an old debt, it is a good idea to try and determine when you made your last payment. If your last payment was more than four years from when the lawsuit was filed then you may have a good statute of limitations defense.
As stated above, the rule is when the lawsuit is filed, not when you are served with the lawsuit. To confirm that you were properly served, please see our article on Service of Process in Texas.
To raise a statute of limitations defense, you must plead it in your answer as an affirmative defense. For more information on filing an answer, please see my article on How to Answer a Summons in Texas.
It is important to realize that you have the burden of proof when it comes to a statute of limitations defense. Do not assume that you will be able to have your “day in court” and present all of this to the judge. In fact, if you try to defend the lawsuit yourself, the creditor may file a Motion for Summary Judgment against you without you having the ability to prove your defense.
If you have been sued by a credit card company or a debt purchaser in please call WestonLegal for a FREE consultation. We have defended thousands of debt collection lawsuits.