Your ultimate guide to the statute of limitations in Illinois
A huge sigh of relief swept across Illinois recently when the Cook County Medical Debt Relief Initiative abolished nearly $80 million in medical debt for residents.
The initiative brought a much-needed break to Illinois residents grappling with medical debt.
If you’re hoping to settle a non-medical debt, there is an alternative “relief” option in Illinois called a statute of limitations.
In short, it’s a law that sets a deadline for debt collectors to initiate legal proceedings. In some cases, it can be your best option if you’ve got overdue debt.
Read on to learn the nuts and bolts of the statute of limitations in Illinois—as well as steps you can take if you’re being hounded by debt collectors.
What you need to know about the statute of limitations for debt in Illinois
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for most types of consumer debt, such as credit card debt and personal loans, is five years (according to the state’s laws).
Specifically, a debt collector has five years from the date of your last payment, or the date you defaulted on the debt, whichever is later, to sue you to collect the debt.
In Illinois, the statute of limitations is structured as follows:
● For unwritten debt agreements and open-ended agreements, the statute of limitations is five years.
● For written agreements and promissory notes, the statute of limitations extends to ten years.
Typically, an unwritten agreement refers to a verbal agreement between two parties regarding a debt.
The most prevalent type of open-ended agreements are credit card accounts, which allow borrowers to continuously borrow and repay their debts.
Written agreements outline the terms and conditions of a loan and represent a significant portion of debts.
For example, a promissory note, such as those used for mortgages or student loans, is a written agreement that obligates the borrower to repay the debt within a specified time frame, often with interest.
Compared to other states, Illinois has a longer statute of limitations for written agreements. But for unwritten and open-ended agreements, Illinois's statute of limitations is roughly on par with the national average.
How long before a debt becomes uncollectible in Illinois?
A debt does not become uncollectible simply because a certain amount of time has passed.
Even after the statute of limitations has expired, a debt collector can still attempt to collect the debt. They just cannot sue you for the debt.
If a debt collector sues you for a debt that is beyond the statute of limitations, you can use the expiration of the statute as a defense in court.
When can a debt collector sue you in Illinois?
A debt collector who wishes to sue you in Illinois must do so within the Illinois statute of limitations. For most types of consumer debt, the statute of limitations is five years.
Can a debt be collected after 7 years in Illinois?
The answer depends on the type of debt. As mentioned, for most types of consumer debt, the the statute of limitations is typically five years.
For other types of debt such as state tax debt, the statute of limitations can be as long as 20 years.
Even after the statute of limitations has expired, a debt can still be collected. The expiration of the statute of limitations simply means that a debt collector cannot sue you for the debt. They can still try to collect.
A quick guide on dealing with debt collection
If debt collectors are already on your back, here’s a few things to keep in mind to not make the situation worse.
Avoid acknowledging old debts
In Illinois, if a debt is past the statute of limitations, acknowledging the debt or making a payment can reset the clock on the statute of limitations, giving the debt collector more time to sue you.
It’s crucial, therefore, to be cautious when dealing with old debts and interacting with debt collectors.
Know your rights
Debt collectors are bound by certain rules. When trying to to collect a debt that is past the statute of limitations in IL, a debt collector must inform you that the debt is time-barred.
Additionally, you have the right to sue a debt collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. This right is protected under federal law and can be a powerful tool in defending yourself against unfair or illegal debt collection practices.
Seek legal assistance
If a debt collector sues you for a debt that is past the statute of limitations in Illinois, you must still respond to the lawsuit. You can use the expiration of the statute as a defense in court
In such a case, it may be beneficial to seek legal assistance. . Legal aid can provide valuable support, especially when facing debt collection lawsuits.
In Illinois, there are resources available such as the Illinois Court Help hotline, which can provide guidance for those facing debt collection lawsuits.
Revival of judgments
In Illinois, a consumer debt judgment can be revived by filing a petition to revive the judgment. But there are specific rules and limitations for this process.
A judgment cannot be revived before the seventh year after its entry.
During the seventh year following entry, the judgment may be revived if the creditor files a petition to revive the judgment in the case in which the original judgment was entered.