The statute of limitations on credit card debt is four years in Pennsylvania. Creditors must bring legal proceedings against a debtor for past-due debt before the statute of limitations runs out or forfeit the right to do so in the future. Debtors are not required to pay old, expired debt. However, creditors can still try collecting the debt outside of court.
Credit Statute of Limitations
In Pennsylvania, a creditor has four years from the date of last activity on a credit card account to file a lawsuit. The creditor must file the lawsuit in a state court, and can only sue for the delinquent amount owed plus attorney’s fees. The burden of proof lies with the creditor, who must provide proof of payment history and provide a copy of the original credit card agreement or other written contract. Depending on the evidence provided, the court will either dismiss the case or render a judgment.
Judgment Statute of Limitations
If a creditor wins a debt collection lawsuit, it will receive a judgment for the proven amount of debt owed on the past-due or delinquent line of credit plus attorney’s fees. The creditor can report the judgment to the three major consumer credit reporting bureaus -- TransUnion, Experian and Equifax -- for five years. Judgments are enforceable for a period up to five years.
Debt Collection Activities
If a creditor fails to file a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania state court before the statute of limitations runs out, the creditor can transfer the debt to an internal collection department for further collection, sell the old debt to an outside collection agency at a fraction of the value or write it off at a zero value. The creditor cannot, however, sue the debtor in court. Once debt expires, it is uncollectible in a state court.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Under Pennsylvania state law, consumers are not required to pay old, expired debt. The consumer can dispute the debt in writing and ask the creditor not to initiate any further communication unless the communication is to acknowledge that no further action will be taken. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law that regulates debt collection practices, a creditor cannot threaten or harass a debtor during the debt collection process.