Time Limit For Collector To Sue Me In Alabama

“What is the time Limit For Collector To Sue Me In Alabama?”

collectorThe question of “how long does a collector have to sue me in Alabama” or “what is the statute of limitations in Alabama” is a very common question.

The answer is a little harder than you might imagine.

As a general rule, it will be either three or six years if we are dealing with a credit card or four years if on a car loan.

Lawsuits on old credit cards are typically brought within 3 years of not making payments or within 6 years of your last payment

Three years is the statute of limitations for an “open account” in Alabama.

Most credit cards are considered an “open account.”

So why do debt buyers sue you more than 3 years?

Because they claim they are suing under a legal theory of breach of contract or “stated account/account stated”.

Those theories are typically six years to bring suit.

For most debt buyer lawsuits, I don’t believe breach of contract is the correct legal theory but understand you will often be sued under this theory.

Same thing with the stated account/account stated — its a theory that doesn’t fit credit cards but you can almost be certain it will be in every debt buyer lawsuit.

If you are under three years, it is almost certain that you can be sued.

Between three and six years?

Probably you will be sued.

I wish I could give you absolute guidance on this but I can’t.

There are so many individual factors.

Have you  made payments since the debt defaulted?

Where were you when you took out the debt?

What does the card holder agreement say?

You can always ask the collector or the collection lawyer if this is in the statute of limitations and why they feel the way they do.

They may or may not answer you, but at least you’ll get some information.

On old auto loan cases, the statute of limitations is typically four years

Normally this is how lawsuits on old auto loans happen.

You go to a dealer and buy a car.

The dealer is listed as the creditor/seller.

Then the dealer supposedly assigns the loan to some other company — maybe Santander.

Normally, after a repossession, Santander claims it sold your loan to Cascade Capital.

Finally, Cascade often argues it sold your loan to Velocity Investments.  Who then sues you.

Under this pattern of facts, the statute of limitations in Alabama is four years.  (Note:  some of these debt buyers will argue against this but they are simply wrong.  Wishful thinking on their part….)

In our next post on this subject of time limits for collectors to collect, we will look at the time limits for credit reporting.  You can find our article/video on the time limit to collect generally.  Finally our overview article discusses all three time periods for collectors to collect.

Contact us if you would like to talk about your unique situation.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 1-205-879-2447.

Or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

We will be glad to help you figure out the best course of action.

I look forward to talking you!

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts


  1. Elli C says:

    What if your debt originates in Alabama but you move to another state? Would they sue you where the original debt was made?

    • John Watts says:


      They have a choice — normally they sue you where you live now. But I occasionally see folks who now live in Orlando Florida, for example, still get sued in Madison County (Huntsville) where they used to live.

      Again, it is not the normal but the debt collector has that choice — basically to sue you where you live now or where the debt was taken out. Taken out normally means the county you used to live in.

      If you think you might be getting sued, its a good idea to check your mail and voicemail. See if you are getting collection letters sent to your old Alabama address or to your new address.

      Most likely where ever the collection letters are being sent is where you will be sued but its not 100%.

      If you have questions, feel free to call us — ask for Carolyn at 205-879-2447 and let her know you are out of state but used to be in Alabama and you are concerned about being sued in Alabama. She can look up to see if sued in Alabama and can also set us up a call if you would like to chat.

      Thanks and best wishes!

      John Watts

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