Debt Collectors Who Threaten To Sue On A Time Barred Debt Violate The FDCPA

Wrong decision for debt collectors to threaten to sue on too old of debt

Wrong decision for debt collectors to threaten to sue on debt that’s too old.

Debt Collectors Who Threaten To Sue On A Time Barred Debt Violate The FDCPA

Find Out Why Debt Collectors Who Threaten To Sue You On A Time-Barred Debt Violate The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

This is a common problem – debt collectors in general (and debt buyers in particular) – will get debts that are clearly outside the statute of limitations in Alabama (either 3 or 4 or 6 years) and they will threaten to sue you.

This is a violation of the FDCPA (click here if you would like to read our FAQ on stopping abusive debt collectors).

Here’s how this normally works:

  • You either owe a debt or allegedly owe a debt;
  • It goes into default in, for example, 2009;
  • A debt collector or debt buyer such as Midland starts collecting against you;
  • Midland starts blasting your cell phone with auto dialed or robo dialed calls; and
  • Midland will then tell you over the phone that unless you pay this you will “be taken to court” or maybe the debt buyer is more direct and just says “We will sue you to get this money.”

So, what does all of this mean?

First, if you did not give your cell phone number out or if you revoked permission to call your cell phone, then Midland (or whoever the collection company is) likely violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and may be liable for either $500 or up to $1500 per call.

But back to our main topic – the threat to sue you would likely violate the FDCPA. . . . even if Midland never sued you.


Because a debt collector cannot . . . ever . . . under any circumstance . . . threaten you with something that:

  • It never intends on doing; OR
  • It cannot legally do.

So this means if a collector never intends to sue you . . . it can’t threaten you. Even if it has the right to sue you it . . . to threaten is a violation of the FDCPA.

It is even more of a violation when the collector cannot do what it threatens. So no threats of arrest or garnishment (without having a judgment unless certain types of student loans) or deportation, etc.

One thing that a debt collector cannot do is sue you after the statute of limitations has expired.

So . . . if Midland can’t sue you after the statute of limitations has expired (either three or six years depending on various factors) then it cannot threaten to sue you.

So if Midland or some other debt collector does threaten you with suit (or even sues you) after the statute of limations has expired – what should you do?

Sue under the FDCPA. Get damages. Make Midland or whoever the debt collector is to pay attorney’s fees.

You may be able to sue under the Alabama state law of Malicious Prosecution or Abuse of Process if the collector actually sued you. Both of these allow for punitive damages.

Bottom line is if any debt collector threatens you with suing you after the statute of limitations has expired or threatens you with any other action it won’t or can’t do – then you need to meet with a consumer lawyer to understand your rights.

Contact Us.

Understand your rights and also understand what is the best course of action.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447 or fill out our contact form.

I look forward to talking with you!

Let us know how we can help you.

Have a great day~

John G. Watts


  1. Alicia duke says:

    Needed this info , very helpful

  2. Douglas Pelehowski says:

    i’m in florida who do i talk to here? they have got a judgement against me and garnishing wages!!

    • John Watts says:


      I’m sorry I don’t specifically who to chat with in Florida — if you do a google search for your particular city something like “city, state consumer protection attorney debt collector” you should find some options.

      If you want to tell me what city you are in I’ll see if I know anyone. We practice statewide in Alabama but most lawyers who do similar work to us don’t practice statewide so you would want to chat with someone in your area.

      Sorry I can’t help you directly……

      John Watts

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