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Debt Collection

This research guide provides information about your rights under Texas and federal law when dealing with debt and debt collectors.

Time-Barred Debts

Once the statute of limitations period is up, debt collectors cannot sue to recover a debt.

What Is a Time-Barred Debt?

Texas law gives someone a certain amount of time to bring a lawsuit for an unpaid debt. This time period is often commonly referred to as the statute of limitations.

Once the time period set out by the statute of limitations is up, a person is prohibited from filing suit to recover the debt. This means the debt is time-barred.

In the past, taking certain actions such as making a payment or verbally acknowledging that you owe the debt could restart the clock on the limitations period. This created a problem called zombie debt where the time period set out by the statute of limitations could be constantly restarted.

A new state law introduced in 2019 aims to protect people from zombie debt. This law prevents debt buyers from suing to try to collect the debt even if a payment is made on the debt after the statute of limitations has expired. It also requires debt buyers to provide written notice if they are taking action past the limitations period. Debt buyers are defined by Section 392.307 of the Texas Finance Code as a person who purchases a consumer’s debt from a creditor. Please see the statute for a full definition.

You still owe time-barred debts, but creditors and debt buyers lose their most powerful way of collecting — a lawsuit.

Texas and Federal Law

Understanding the Law