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Credit card debt and the Kentucky statute of limitations

Kentucky law protects citizens who owe debt to credit card companies from being sued by collections agencies after a period of years has passed. This is meant to protect residents from being forced to defend themselves in a court of law after a long time has passed and their ability to produce exonerating evidence is impaired.

Kentucky does not have a clear court ruling over which of two statutes apply to credit card debt. The law on oral contracts in the state indicates that a suit must be brought by the collections agency within five years of the last action on the debt while the law on written contracts gives fifteen years for the collector to bring the suit. Since credit card companies have the ability to change the agreement unilaterally without the consent of the cardholder, it is not clear whether the contract is oral, written or in another class. The legislature has yet to directly address the question. Now, each individual case is worked out by the court, and there is no overall answer.

Once the statute of limitations has expired, the debt is considered to be time-barred. This forestalls creditor harassment as it is no longer a legal debt and they cannot sue for recovery. However, this does not necessarily require them to suspend their attempts to collect on the debt.

If a creditor attempts to sue over a time-barred debt, it can be helpful to inform the court or the judge of the age of the debt in an effort to have the suit dismissed. In cases where the debt has not expired and payments become unmanageable, bankruptcy might be an option for relief.

Source: Creditcards.com, "State statutes of limitation for credit card debt", Connie Prater and Fred O. Williams, November 15, 2014

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