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Time-Barred Debts

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The holidays are over and debt collectors are already beating down your door, but what about the ghosts of debt for Christmases past?

The Warren County, NJ library is serious about collecting its overdue fines. Starting this month, if you fail to pay your fine, they’re turning it over to a collection agency. I would NOT want a debt collector from New Jersey on my tail for that Nancy Drew book I never returned from fourth grade.

The good news is that debt has long since passed.

It’s true that you are legally responsible for the debts you owe. But there are some debts called time-barred debts that are so old they’re beyond the point a creditor could sue you to collect them. State law varies but in most states the limit is between three and ten years – check with your state’s attorney general at to check on your state’s limit.

The law doesn’t prohibit debt collectors from trying to collect debts that they know are too old to sue you for, but they don’t sue or threaten to sue you while trying to collect them.

As for that Nancy Drew book I’m into the library for, it’s a mystery to both of us what happened to it.

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