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There’s an old cliché that states, “Don’t believe everything you read.” In today’s day and age, it should be updated to “Don’t believe everything you read, ESPECIALLY on the Internet.” (This sounds funny coming from a blogger, right?) Nowhere is this truer than in the countless question-and-answer forums that have surfaced online. In case you are not familiar with the sites to which I am referring, they are essentially cyber round-tables, usually divvied up by topics, where users can post a question to the online world, and then wait for answers from who-knows-where and who-knows-whom.
It is one thing to engage in online discussions about who has the best tuna salad recipe. However, the Internet is inundated with forums dealing with very weighty topics, including serious legal matters. I am both fascinated and petrified at the amount of very bad legal advice that is doled out in these online forums, and even more amazed at the amount of people who choose to rely on such advice. .
For example, a few days ago I happened upon one of the more well-known question-and-answer forums, and found that someone had posted a question that read something like this: “I defaulted on a credit card 5½ years ago, and now the bank is coming after me, claiming that the statute of limitations is six years. Can they really do that after all this time?”
What followed were a whole host of varied responses from scores of would-be-experts opining on which of Colorado’s statutes of limitations applied to the collection of a credit card debt. One particularly forceful and aggressive individual insisted that the credit card company had only three years to collect, rather than six, and urged the inquirer to bear down and fight them to the end.
Which brings me to another cliché: “You get what you pay for.”
Colorado’s general time period allotted to a creditor to sue on a contract is three years. See C.R.S. § 13-80-101. However, the law carves out a very large six-year exception to the three-year rule for “all actions to recover a liquidated debt or an unliquidated, determinable amount of money due to the person bringing the action.” See C.R.S. § 13-80-103.5. The statute itself does not define what is meant by “liquidated”, but the courts have essentially held that if there is a written contract between the debtor and the creditor that defines the terms of the agreement such that the debtor is reasonably capable of determining the amount that is due, then the debt is “liquidated.” The last time I checked, credit card companies are not in the habit of handing out credit cards without first making the debtor sign a written agreement. In other words, credit card debts are almost always liquefiable, which almost always means that the credit card companies will have six years to pursue the debt.
Because every situation is different and circumstances vary for each individual, we encourage you to contact us regarding the facts pertaining to your case to determine how the laws discussed in this article apply to you.
by Josh Deere, Attorney
Hanes Hrbacek & Bartels, LLC