What will happen with my credit if I choose not to pay off a nearly6 year-old credit card debt?

UPDATED: Feb 9, 2012

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What will happen with my credit if I choose not to pay off a nearly6 year-old credit card debt?

I have an outstanding debt to a major credit card company of approximately $12,000. It started out as about half that but it’s been sold to different collectors a few times and increases each time. The last time a payment was made on the balance was 6 years. For whatever reason, I haven’t been bothered by collectors for many years. Is it true that after six years they can no longer sue me for the amount? And what will happen with my credit report? I’m trying to rebuild my credit but considering the large amount of the debt, I’m unsure if it’s worth paying.

Asked on February 9, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It does appear that in Oregon, the statute of limitations for a debt like this is 6 years. Note that is 6 years from when you defaulted, or when you were late or delinquent on a payment, so it's possible that (depending on the exact dates, etc.) that there is still some time to try and sue.

The credit rating agencies play it very close to their vests, vis-a-vis their credit rating formulas. The default will clearly strongly impact your credit, but the exact impact is difficult to determine (it also varies with what your rating is otherwise; as I understand it, a default hurts a 750 credit rating more than a 450, for example). Best guess is it knocks 100 - 200 points off your rating for several years.

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