I forgot about a debt from 10 years ago. Now they are threatening to sue me. Can they get a judgment after 10 years?
If you have old debts, a collector may not be able to get a judgment. It depends on the statute of limitations.
Debt collectors and creditors have a limited number of years to sue you for collection. The principal statute of limitations in Illinois varies depending on what was on sale or lease. Below are some common limitations:
4 years for the sale or lease of goods (such as a car, and including the obligation to pay for the goods). This includes some things which you might not think of as goods (water, natural gas, heating oil).
10 years for a contract wholly in writing;
5 years for a contract not wholly in writing (such as a bank credit card; sending you written terms which you "accept" by use of the card or other conduct is not considered a "writing");
2 years for bad check penalties;
3 years for bad checks.
These timelines apply prior to judgment. Judgments are enforceable for 20-27 years (shortened to 10 years for many judgments entered after January 1, 2020), with a requirement for revival after 7.
Other Types of Debt and Their Statute of Limitations in Illinois
The statute of limitations is different depending on what type of debt you have. Below are details regarding other types of debt and their statute of limitations.
We have obtained a ruling that an equity line of credit secured by your home (HELOC) is governed by the five-year statute.
Mortgages are enforceable for the same period as the underlying debt.
Illinois courts will generally apply the Illinois statute of limitations unless the "borrowing statute" applies. This basically applies if you lived in another state at the time of default and the limitations period in the other state is shorter.
"Writing" is used in a very technical sense in the statute of limitations, so do not assume that just because some sort of document exists the contract is one wholly in writing.
While the statute of limitations on a bad check is 3 years, there may be a longer period of limitations on the underlying transaction, depending on what it is.
There are no statutes of limitation on federal student loans. Private student loans are subject to the 5 or 10-year statute, depending on the documentation.
The statutes are measured from the later of default, last payment or last transaction. Payments may revive the statute and permit suit to be brought again.
In some cases, there are provisions for extension of the statute. For example, if you file a Chapter 13 that is late dismissed, the period during which the creditor is enjoined from collecting by the automatic stay is not counted.
There is also a special extension provision where the Government (usually the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) takes over a financial institution. The Illinois Appellate Court has held that it applies to entities that buy the debts of a failed financial institution from the Government.