It’s frustrating when a customer won’t pay their bill. It’s even more frustrating when all your collection letters, phone calls, email reminders and other attempts at “easy” collection are ignored.
Eventually, you have to decide what you’re going to do about any unpaid debts — but how long can you put off more drastic collection action?
Know when the clock starts ticking
In general, the statute of limitations on most consumer and contractual debts is five years. If you don’t successfully collect within that time period without seeking a court’s judgment, you lose the ability to enforce the debt entirely.
There are a few other things you should know about the statute of limitations on debts here in Florida:
- The clock on the statute of limitations usually starts running out only when the debtor’s payment is missed.
- A debtor may “reset the clock” by making a payment or partial payment during your collection efforts.
- If you wait until the statute of limitations is over to pursue a claim, the debtor can have your case dismissed on technical (statutory) grounds
What can you do to protect your rights to pursue a debt as vigorously as possible? It may require legal action. When creditors receive a judgment from the court against a debtor, they can enforce collections for up to 20 years.
That’s much harder for a debtor to just wait out. Plus, a formal judgment can make it easier to find additional ways to collect what you are owed through garnishments, liens and other legal means.