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Debt collectors can attempt to collect debt in bankruptcy beyond statute of limitations

After demonstrating some confusion over how the 11 billion dollar debt collection industry works at oral argument, the United States Supreme Court has ruled a debt collector can file proofs of claim in response to bankruptcy filings even if the debt is beyond the applicable statute of limitations. In reaching this ruling, the Supreme Court noted:

These considerations have significantly diminished force in the context of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The consumer initiates such a proceeding, see 11 U. S. C. §§301, 303(a), and consequently the consumer is not likely to pay a stale claim just to avoid going to court. A knowledgeable trustee is available. See §1302(a). Procedural bankruptcy rules more directly guide the evaluation of claims.

In other words, the Supreme Court ruled because trustees act as a buffer between the debt collector and the consumer, the filing of stale claims is not unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable. The case is Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson.

What this doesn’t mean: Debt collectors still cannot file lawsuits on debt beyond the applicable statute of limitations. In Georgia the statute of limitations for most debts generally is six years from the date of last payment. If you get sued after the statute of limitations has expired, you may have a claim pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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