Know the Facts About Debt Collection Laws in Michigan

Feeling overwhelmed by old bills and debts? You’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with unpaid debts that seem to follow them forever. But here’s some good news: there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to something called the statute of limitations.

Think of it like a time limit for debt collectors. Imagine being chased by a dog, but after a certain distance, it gives up and goes home. The statute of limitations acts like that invisible finish line, protecting you from legal action after a specific period.

Quick Summary:

  • The statute of limitations refers to the time frame where legal action can be taken.
  • In Michigan, the statute of limitations for most types of debt, including credit card debt and personal loans, is six years from the date of last activity on the account or the date of default.
  • Creditors have legal tools such as wage garnishment and bank account levies to collect debts even after the statute of limitations expires. 
  • Ignoring overdue debt notices can revive collection efforts.
  • Michigan debtors are protected by state and federal laws. Those laws outline guidelines to prevent unfair or harassing debt collection practices.
  • Options for managing overdue debt include Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt negotiation, consolidation, budgeting, and seeking financial counseling.

However, its issues and implications can be complex and confusing to most people. In this article, we will discuss the statute of limitations of debt. We will also delve into the laws about debt in Michigan and possible solutions to settling overdue debt.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Debt?

The statute of limitations for debt refers to the maximum period during which a creditor can sue a debtor to recover a debt. After this period expires, the creditor loses the legal right to sue for the debt. Remember, the debt will still exist.

The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of debt and the jurisdiction (which can be at the federal or state level in the United States).

What are the Laws On Michigan Debt Collection?

In Michigan, the statute of limitations for most types of debt, including credit card debt and personal loans, is six years. That means that creditors have up to six years from the date of the last activity on the account or the date of default (whichever comes later) to file a lawsuit to collect the debt.

If the statute of limitations expires or has not been paid in six years, creditors in Michigan will generally become unable to take legal action against a debtor. However, creditors have several ways to request a debt collection, leading to possible creditor harassment. These methods include:

Requesting for a Judgment

The statute of limitations for debt typically allows creditors only up to six years to collect your debt. However, a creditor can also get a judgment on your debt. That allows them to request your debt for up to 10 years per renewal

A judgment in debt collection is a court order that validates the creditor’s right to collect a debt from the debtor. It is typically obtained after the creditor has filed a lawsuit against the debtor for non-payment of their debt. The court should also have ruled in favor of the creditor.

The judgment outlines the money the debtor owes, plus any applicable interest, court costs, and attorney fees.

Legal Tools for Debt Collection

Once a judgment is obtained, the creditor gains more legal tools to collect the debt. These tools may include wage garnishment, bank account levies, liens on property, or other methods.

Resuming Collection Efforts

A creditor might apply a charge-off status on your debt. When a creditor designates a debt as “charged off,” it means they have determined that the debt is unlikely to be collected and have written it off as a loss for accounting purposes.

This does not mean that the debtor is no longer responsible for the debt. Other issues become available once this happens:

  • When a creditor sells the debt to a collection agency, the third party can pursue a garnishment against the debtor. That extends the time for collecting the debt.
  • The statute of limitations is an “affirmative defense”. That means if you receive a notice of complaint on your overdue debt and you ignore it, the creditor can file a deficiency judgment and revive collection efforts.
  • Unsettled debt can damage your credit score. Overdue debts can still count up to your total debt-to-income ratio.

Are There Any Laws Protecting Debtors?

In Michigan, as in the rest of the United States, debtors are protected by state laws about debt collection practices and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Below is an overview of how these laws protect debtors:

Michigan Collection Practices Act (MCPA)

The Michigan Collection Practices Act outlines rules and regulations for debt collection within the state. It prohibits unfair, deceptive, or harassing debt collection practices by debt collectors operating in Michigan.

The MCPA outlines specific guidelines on communication, validation of debts, and prohibited actions by debt collectors.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The FDCPA is a federal law that sets guidelines for fair debt collection practices across the United States. It applies to third-party debt collectors, not creditors collecting their debts.

However, it covers various consumer debts, including credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, and mortgages.

The MCPA and the FDCPA protect debtors from abusive or unfair debt collection practices and provide avenues for recourse if their rights are violated.

What Can I Do to Manage Overdue Debts?

To manage overdue debt, consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy for a fresh start by liquidating non-exempt assets to repay creditors. The process takes months to complete. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also an option. It offers a structured repayment plan over three to five years. It also allows you to keep assets while paying off a part of the debt.

Additionally, explore alternatives like debt negotiation or consolidation, budgeting, and seeking financial counseling. Understanding your options and obligations is crucial in managing overdue debt and working toward financial stability.

Work With Our Experienced Bankruptcy Attorneys Today!

Understanding the implications of the statute of limitations for debt in Michigan and adhering to its deadlines are critical for everyone. This is especially so for those involved in legal disputes or seeking solutions for overdue payments.

At Hammerschmidt Stickradt & Associates, we recognize the significance of the statute of limitations and its impact on our clients’ debt cases in Royal Oak, MI. With help from our experienced bankruptcy attorneys, we strive to provide the highest level of legal representation while guiding our clients through every phase of the legal process.

Bankruptcy can be a possible solution to your debt crisis. Let us help you navigate Michigan’s statute of limitations for debt with confidence and understanding. Contact us today, and get a free consultation now!