Arizona Legislature Changes Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Accounts.
The Arizona Legislature recently changed the law to make most credit card collection cases subject to a six year statute of limitations. A.R.S. Sec. 12-548 now states that "if the indebtedness is evidenced by or founded on . . . a credit card. . ." it is subject to the six year statute of limitations.
The following cases will no longer provide the persuasive precedent that we have previously enjoyed.
The East Mesa Justice Court in Maricopa County recently followed the holding in the DSS Financial v. Walrod case and dismissed a collection lawsuit brought by a bad-debt buyer, Action Financial, LLC, holding that the statute of limitations on a credit card account is three (3) years. See Action Financial, LLC v. Long, CC2008005084.
The West Mesa Justice Court of Maricopa County also recently held that the debt, which was an old credit card account, was an open account and thus barred by the three (3) year statute of limitations under A.R.S. § 12-543. See Action Financial, LLC v. Foran, CC2008189319.
The holdings in these two cases do not conclusively settle the debate over the statute of limitations on a credit card debt in Arizona. However, as more and more Arizona courts hold that credit card debts are subject to the three (3) year statute of limitations, bad-debt buyers will be less likely to file these stale suits, or at least more likely to dismiss them if challenged.
What to Do If You Have Been Sued on an Old Credit Card Debt?
The worst thing you can do is do nothing. That is what these bad-debt buyers hope you will do – nothing, so that they will get their judgment. Once a judgment is entered, and unless it is set aside by the court, the debt now becomes collectible even if the debt was stale and beyond the statute of limitations, and uncollectible, when the case was filed. So you must do SOMETHING.
The best something is to fight back. You may have one or more defenses to the suit. The debt may be old, such as the cases noted above, or the bad-debt buyer may not be able to prove that it is the current owner of the debt. Other defenses include identify theft, unauthorized use of the credit card, or fraud.
Help For Arizona Consumers is Available.
Many Arizona consumers believe that they cannot afford to hire an attorney to assist them in defending the lawsuit. However, there are several attorneys in the Mesa-Phoenix area who defend consumers in these debt collection cases, and their fees are reasonable, and likely to be a much better alternative than to have an unwarranted judgment entered against you.
Floyd Bybee of the BYBEE LAW CENTER, PLC represents Arizona consumers who have been sued on old credit card accounts.
If you would like a free phone consultation to see if you might have a defense to the lawsuit, please call (480) 756-8822.