The statutes of limitations for debt collection restrict how long creditors have to sue borrowers. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations is six years for written contracts, verbal agreements, promissory notes and credit cards. After the statute of limitations is up, the creditor can no longer take legal action.
Written and Oral Contracts
All contracts in Massachusetts have a six-year statute of limitations. Some examples of written contracts include car loans, personal loans and mortgages. Service agreements with utility providers are also written contracts, even if you didn't physically sign any documents. An electronic signature is legally binding. Although oral contracts are harder to prove in court than written contracts, they're still enforceable and subject to the statute of limitations.
Promissory notes are used to document a promise to repay a debt. The promissory note states the terms and conditions of a loan agreement, including consequences for non-payment. They are commonly used for mortgages and deeds of trusts, private-party car sales and student loans. Promissory notes aren't secured with any collateral to satisfy the debt if you default, but the lender can take you to court for up to six years after defaulting.
Credit cards are classified as open-ended accounts or revolving accounts. The statute of limitations for enforcing an unpaid credit card bill is six years. Even if the credit card company charged-off the debt, the statute of limitations still applies. Selling the debt to a third-party collection agency won't extend the statute of limitations or reset the clock.
Traffic tickets in Massachusetts aren't subject to the state's statutes of limitations. If you receive a traffic ticket, you'll need to either pay the ticket or attempt to appeal the ticket in court.
Civil matters have a three-year statute of limitations. For example, if someone damaged your personal property, you have three years to file a lawsuit. A bounced check can also fall under the civil classification.
There is no statute of limitations for child support arrears. Massachusetts allows interest charges of up to 12 percent a year on past-due and retroactive child support payments.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.