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What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Debt In Washington State Law?

Washington residents have one of the highest levels of mortgage debt in the country. Someone with a high salary in Washington could also have financial difficulties due to the state’s high cost of living. Credit card debt is likewise high, while Washington residents have comparatively modest levels of auto and student loan debt. However, one source of worry is that Washington residents have seen large increases in every other type of debt since 2017.

If you need assistance with an old debt that won’t go away, the greatest mistake you can do is to ignore it and let time pass.  The sooner you act, the better the results will be. Make your first move by contacting an Oregon (Portland, Salem, Medford) AND Washington (Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma) debt defense attorney near you!

Northwest Debt Defense’s debt lawyers help clients who have been faced with a debt litigation in realizing that they may get the upper hand in the situation. Our experienced Washington debt collection lawsuit lawyers will fight for your rights as a debtor in and out of court.

  • I live In Washington State, And Debt Collectors Are Calling Me Constantly!
  • The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: How Do They Help? 
  • Debt Collection Protection Laws in Washington State
  • What Are Required From Collection Agencies Under Washington Law? 
  • What Conducts Are Prohibited Under Washington State Law?
  • Washington Debt Collection Defense Attorneys

I live In Washington State, And Debt Collectors Are Calling Me Constantly!

FDCPA, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of the United States, protects you from debt collectors. This federal statute restricts debt collectors’ phone calls. Washington is one of the states with laws that give its residents extra protection. The state of Washington has two debt-protection laws: the CPA (Consumer Protection Act), and the CAA (Collection Agency Act). While the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act establishes a minimum baseline for states, Washington’s regulations increase the bar. It’s like having a small federal minimum wage and a higher state minimum wage.

The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: How Do They Help? 

What is the statute of limitations on debt?

Government authorities investigated debt collecting practices in the 1970s. According to evidence, debt collectors have been abusing, misleading, harassing, and engaging in unfair activities. As a solution, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted in the year 1977. This landmark law holds a debt collector to higher standards and provides customers with more rights.

The FDCPA applies to personal consumer debt like medical debt, car loans, and credit card debt. Business debt is exempt from this law. What debt collectors could and could not do to recover an unpaid debt is governed by the law. It only applies to debt collectors and collection agencies, not to original creditors.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) controls how and how often debt collectors can communicate with you. Debt collectors are also regulated in what they may say and how they can get in touch with a debtor. 

Debt Collection Protection Laws in Washington State: What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Debt?

Washington State was a leader in consumer protection. The Consumer Protection Act (19.86 RCW), or CPA, was enacted nearly a decade well before FDCPA. The Consumer Protection Act was enacted to protect consumers against unfair business practices. The Act declares that unfair and deceptive practices in trade and commerce are illegal, and it empowers citizens to be able to sue businesses that act unfairly or unethically.

CAA, the Collection Agency Act (19.16 RCW) went into force just before the FDCPA in 1972. The CAA governs collection agency license and conduct, as well as what debt collection agencies are banned from practicing and the sanctions for noncompliance. This legislation can benefit you by getting debt collectors in Washington State to stop phoning and harassing you.

Before making their initial contact with you, collection agencies in Washington are required by law to provide a written notice. According to federal law, a letter must be written within five days after the initial phone communication. 

Washington state law also requires credit reporting for medical debt and limits the amount of time you will have to sue for past-due debt. In Washington, a debt collection agency is not permitted to disclose a medical debt to a credit report bureau until 180 days have elapsed after the debt was received. Therefore, if you owe money to a hospital in Seattle, you’ll have to wait around six months for it to appear on your credit report.

If you have formal written contracts on your debt, as in a car loan and credit card debt, the debt collector has 6 years to sue you. The 6-year timeframe, generally referred to as the statute of limitations, begins the very first time you defaulted on your debt, not when you initially incurred it. Normally, this implies that the statute of limitations begins to run when you fail on your 1st payment. The statute of limitations is 3 years in Washington if you have an oral contract for debt. State laws dealing with time-barred debts are known as statutes of limitations.

Time Barred Debt

Rules that limit the amount of time a person gets to sue, such as statutes of limitation, are confusing because they have an end, but they can also be revived. In other states, if you pay on your debt after the statute of limitations has finished, it will reset the statute. Luckily, this isn’t the case in Washington. If you’re worried about a debt’s statute of limitations, consult with a lawyer before you take action.


You may also be eligible for income and property exemptions for debt collection and debt settlement efforts under Washington state law. For example, Washington’s homestead exemption is $125,000, while federal exemption for those filing bankruptcy is just $25,150.

Wage garnishment does not usually apply to income from government benefits such as child support, pension, and unemployment compensation payments. The state of Washington offers more attractive exemptions for regular job earnings compared to the federal government. If a creditor attempts to garnish your salary in Washington, the amount they may collect is limited. Washington’s wage exemption is either 80% on your net earnings or 35 times the state’s minimum wage, whichever is greater. Federal exemptions are limited to the greater of 75% of your net earnings or 30 times the federal minimum wage. 

Washington law also sets more requirements on collection agencies than federal law, which will benefit you more.

What Are Required From Collection Agencies Under Washington Law?

Debt collection agencies in Washington are required by Washongton state law to be licensed and to give mini-Miranda rights in all communications with you. If you owe money in the state of Washington, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the following sentence in debt collection letters: 

“This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.” This is one of your Miranda mini-notices. It is a civil version of the “whatever you say can and will be used against you” clause in Miranda advice issued to persons being arrested.

As previously stated, the initial notice served by a collection agency in Washington is similar to the federal notice, with the exception that it should be issued before the 1st contact rather than within 5 days after the first contact. In case a debt collector calls, make sure you have a written notice.

If you do not get these notices, it means the debt collector has broken the law in Washington. 

What Conducts Are Prohibited Under Washington State Law?

To stop debt collectors from calling you, you should know what debt collectors are not permitted to do and what your options are if the law is broken by them.

Collecting agencies and debt collectors calling you are not permitted to:

  • (Unless you specify otherwise) call you from 9:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. State law sets the time limit at 7:30 in the morning. 
  • Talk to you and your spouse for more than thrice a week.
  • Invoke the threat of disclosing your debt to loved ones, relatives and friends.
  • Intimidate you with threats of legal measures that they do not have the legal authority to carry.
  • Intimidate you with charges of crime or arrest
  • Make harassing, frightening, antagonizing, or humiliating telephone calls, letters, and other efforts to connect you or your family.
  • Threaten you over the phone or in writing

Debt collectors and collection agencies are also barred from collecting debts utilizing documents that purport to be government documents. If you intend to pay using a post-dated check, bear in mind that the debt collector cannot deposit it before the date written on the check. In the event that they do so, they have broken the law. They’re also not permitted to ask from you a post-dated check.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau implemented, on November 30, 2021, new regulations on debt collection calls, emails, SMS and social media engagement. Debt collectors cannot contact you using social media that is public or visible to your contacts. You’ll also be able to inform your debt collector of your preferred means of communication and demand that they stop calling you.

Washington Debt Collection Defense Attorneys

If you have suffered any of these violations from a debt collection agency, we can fix that problem for you. Call us immediately for legal advice particularly on what is the statute of limitations on debt.

For decades, Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm has provided legal assistance to those who have or are going through debt buying and debt collection. Our experienced Washington debt defense attorneys can help you in alleviating your stress so that you can concentrate on regaining your financial freedom.

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Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm

650 NE Holladay St, Suite 1640
Portland, OR 97232, United States

NW Debt Defense Law Firm is a Debt Relief Agency. Where appropriate we file petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code solely for consumers in the District of Oregon. We represent both Oregon and Washington consumers in collections law suits in Oregon and Washington state courts.


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