The statute of limitations stipulates how long a creditor has to sue you if you stop paying on a debt. In many states, this time limit varies depending on the type of debt you owe. However, the statute of limitations in South Carolina is the same across the board.
Statute of Limitations in South Carolina
The statute of limitations for all types of debt is three years in South Carolina. This includes written contracts such as bank loans and medical bills, promissory notes such as mortgages and open-ended accounts such as credit cards. It starts from what’s known as the "date of default." This is usually the day you missed your last payment, but it can be up to 30 days afterward.
Determining Date of Default
To determine whether your debt has exceeded the statute of limitations, first look through your records and find the date of your last missed payment. Add 30 days to this date. Add three years to that date and if it falls after the current date, you're in the clear. However, it's important to note that this does not absolve you of paying that debt.
You Still Owe the Debt
Although the statute of limitations expires after three years, you are still obliged to repay the debt. Creditors can still contact you regarding the debts and may even initiate a lawsuit against you. If you are sued after the statute of limitations runs out, the court can still enter a judgment against you unless you appear in court and use the expiration in what’s known as an "affirmative defense."
Restarting the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations also can restart in some situations. The first way to reset the clock is to acknowledge that you owe the debt; this can be as simple as answering “yes” when a bill collector asks if you are aware of the debt. The second is if you make a payment, offer to make a payment or agree to a settlement. Any of these actions gives creditors an additional three years to file a lawsuit.
If a creditor or other plaintiff receives a judgment against you through the South Carolina courts, the statute of limitations is 10 years. After that point, plaintiffs can no longer use legal remedies such as garnishment to collect the debt.
Although the statute of limitations is only three years in South Carolina, the unpaid debt remains on your credit report for the full seven-year term used by credit agencies. Disputing or changing information on your credit report does not affect the statute of limitations.