In Michigan, there is a statute of limitations on debt. For some reason, many debt collectors either conveniently forget this fact, or they knowingly pursue old debt illegally. In either case, you have rights.

The Official Statute of Limitations on Debt in Michigan

In Michigan, the statute of limitations on debt varies by the type of debt. But for consumer debt, the statute of limitations is six years. This applies to all four types of contracts.

  • Oral contracts (verbal agreements)
  • Written contracts (signed documents)
  • Promissory notes
  • Open-ended accounts (i.e. credit cards)

This and all other information regarding debt and debt collection is all outlined in Michigan’s Public Act 236, Limitation on Actions.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations on Debt

There are a lot of misunderstandings about the statute of limitation. Keep in mind that the statute does not mean that someone has to stop trying to collect from you. It only means that they cannot do it through the court. Once the statute of limitations passes, debt collectors and creditors can still…

  • Call you
  • Send you correspondence
  • Give information to credit reporting agencies

They are not allowed to harass you, but they are allowed to attempt to collect. They just cannot seek a judgment.

The Lifecycle of a Debt

When an amount owed goes unpaid for a period of time, a creditor or debt collector can try to sue for the amount. They will first attempt to contact you for payment, and if you make a payment of any amount, the lifecycle of the debt renews.

If you make no payment, the creditor or debt collector will attempt to seek a court judgment. This can lead to garnished wages. The creditor or debt collector has six years to seek a judgment. After six years, the statute of limitations runs out.

Judgments on a Debt

However, if the collector gains a court judgment the timeframe for collecting the debt resets. They have 10 years to collect, whether through wage garnishments or other means. Within that 10-year span, they can renew the judgment. This can effectively keep you in debt and paying on that debt in perpetuity.

Default Judgments on Debt Collection

Of course, when there’s a judgment involved, you have the chance to defend yourself against it. That’s why if you receive any court notices you should never ignore them. If you bypass your chance to defend yourself, a default judgment will almost certainly occur.

This judgment can occur even if the statute of limitations has passed. That’s because it is up to you to show and prove

Time-Barred Debts

A time-barred debt is one that has gone beyond the statute of limitations. This is your defense if a collector attempts to sue you after that statute of limitations is up. As stated previously, a collector can continue seeking payment once the debt become time-barred. Practice care when speaking to a collector when they are trying to collect time-barred debts. You can inadvertently renew the debt and make it viable again.

What You Can Do about It

All this talk about debt assumes you have a true and legitimate debt. But what happens if you’re not sure if the debt is beyond the statute of limitations? What if you don’t remember the debt? What if you suspect the debt isn’t even yours?

It wouldn’t be the first time that someone received a letter from the court about a judgment on a debt that they didn’t know existed.

The only thing you can do is fight back.

  • Don’t ever accept a mysterious debt
  • Don’t ever ignore letters from the court
  • Avoid speaking to the creditor or debt collector
  • Don’t wait or hope that it goes away

You need to contact a serious debt and consumer credit lawyer to help you get to the bottom of what is going on. If the collector is up to no good, or in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, then you can sue them and turn the tables.

If you see errors on your credit report, call or email Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free consultation at (888) 293-2882. For more information about your credit rights as a consumer, visit our website at for informative, how to videos on consumer financial protection.