Six Year Statute of Limitations for Collecting on Credit Card Debt

In 2011, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2412 into law, amending A.R.S. § 12-548 and increasing the statute of limitations for credit card debt from three years to six years. According to the statute, credit card debt “must be prosecuted within six years after the cause of action accrues, if the indebtedness is evidenced by or founded on either of the following: (1) A contract in writing that is executed in this state, or (2) A credit card as defined in the Criminal Code statute.”

In 2017, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a credit card holder’s “failure to make a minimum monthly credit-card payment does not trigger the statute of limitations on a claim for the entire unpaid balance on the account” but the credit card lender must accelerate the debt or otherwise demand payment in full. (Mertola, LLC v. Santos, No. 1 CA-CV 16-0168). Thus, merely missing a payment does not start the clock on the statute of limitations. Unless there are contrary terms in the credit card account agreement, the lender must accelerate the debt or demand full payment for the clock on the statute of limitations to start running.

Once the six year statute of limitations runs out, it means that creditors cannot file lawsuits against the debtor to collect the debts. Nevertheless, nothing prevents a creditor from contacting a debtor to demand payment. However, if a debtor files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay created at the outset of the bankruptcy requires creditors to cease all attempts to collect.

KEYWORDS: Credit Card Debt, Arizona Credit Card Debt Statute of Limitations, Collecting on Credit Card Debt

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