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Q: collecting a debt ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: collecting a debt
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: peppermintp-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 01 Apr 2005 15:47 PST
Expires: 01 May 2005 16:47 PDT
Question ID: 503835
What is the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for collecting a
personal debt? I have an outstanding debt owed to me (verbal agreement
only - no written contract)from 1999/2000
(the person owing the debt moved to Oregon in late 2000). No attempt
has been made to collect the debt and no money has been payed towards
the debt. Can this debt, either in part or whole based on year, still
be collected?
Subject: Re: collecting a debt
Answered By: richard-ga on 01 Apr 2005 17:51 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello and thank you for your question.

Unfortunately a debt is a contract in the form of a promise to pay. 
And in Pennsylvania the limitations period of the debt collection
statute is four years (there's a longer period for 'contracts under
seal' which would be certain written obligations).

Pennsylvania Statute of Limitations 
Contracts: 4 years, (used to be six)

Contracts: Written and under seal, 20 years. Otherwise, 4 years.

The statute is 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann.  5501

Search terms used:
pennsylvania contract "limitations period"

If this requires clarification, please let me know.


Request for Answer Clarification by peppermintp-ga on 01 Apr 2005 23:00 PST
Thanks for your quick response. If the debt occured before the statute
of limitations law changed (now is 4 years, was previously 6 years),
is there a "grandfather clause" whereby the debt can still be
collected (meaning I am still entitled to the full 6 years under the
previous statute)? Does living out of state (I haved lived in NJ for
the past 1 1/2 years) increase or at least stall the PA statute
limitations alloted time (I had read somewhere that this was true -
might have been for formal signed contracts - not sure)? Just checking
ALL my options! Thanks for your help!!

Clarification of Answer by richard-ga on 02 Apr 2005 07:04 PST
Hello again

I checked further on the question of when the statute changed, and
whether absence from the state might toll it.  By the way, the
contract statute of limitations is in 42 Pa. Stat. Ann.  5525, not 
5501 as I stated in my Answer.

Here is the statute:

The cite above is to a personal website (there being no official PA
statute on the Web), and it was "last revised February 1998."  So even
if there were grandfathering of the six year statute, it could only
have applied to contracts entered into pre-1998.

The possibility that the clock might stop while you are out of state
is called "tolling," and although some other states' laws might
provide it, PA does not.  If you will seach the word "toll" in the
following .pdf file you will see the circumstances that PA recognizes.

Sorry, but I believe you have no way to collect apart from asking the
person who owes you the money to concede that the debt is still good.

peppermintp-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $15.00
Very thorough answer. All questions in addition to clarifications were
answered in a very timely matter. Thanks for your help!

Subject: Re: collecting a debt
From: pinkfreud-ga on 01 Apr 2005 15:52 PST
Some of the information in this answer may be useful:

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