December 8, 2023

TN Statute of Limitations on Debt

In Tennessee, there is a statute of limitations on debt. This means that creditors have a limited amount of time to collect a debt from a debtor. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the debt is considered "time-barred" and the creditor can no longer legally collect the debt. Understanding the statute of limitations is important for both debtors and creditors.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, the statute of limitations on debt varies depending on the type of debt. Here are some common types of debt and their corresponding statutes of limitations:

  • Written contracts: 6 years
  • Oral contracts: 6 years
  • Promissory notes: 6 years
  • Credit card debt: 6 years
  • Medical debt: 1 year
  • Judgments: 10 years

It is important to note that the statute of limitations begins from the date of the last payment or activity on the account. This means that if a debtor makes a payment or acknowledges the debt in writing, the statute of limitations may be reset.


What Happens When the Statute of Limitations Expires?

When the statute of limitations expires, the debt is no longer legally enforceable. This means that the creditor cannot sue the debtor for the debt or take any other legal action to collect the debt. However, the debt may still appear on the debtor’s credit report and the creditor may still attempt to collect the debt through other means, such as harassing phone calls or letters.

If a creditor tries to collect a time-barred debt, the debtor has the right to dispute the debt and request that the creditor stop contacting them. Debtors can also file a complaint with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

How to Deal with Time-Barred Debts

If a debtor is dealing with a time-barred debt, there are several options available. One option is to negotiate a settlement with the creditor. This means that the debtor would agree to pay a portion of the debt in exchange for the creditor forgiving the remaining balance.

Another option is to file for bankruptcy. This would discharge the debt entirely, but it can have a negative impact on the debtor’s credit score and future financial options.

It is important to remember that debt collectors are not allowed to harass or threaten debtors, even if the debt is still within the statute of limitations. Debtors have the right to request that debt collectors stop contacting them and to dispute any inaccurate information on their credit report.


The statute of limitations on debt in Tennessee is an important legal concept that affects both debtors and creditors. Debtors should be aware of their rights when dealing with time-barred debts, while creditors should be mindful of the limitations on their ability to collect debts. Understanding the statute of limitations can help both parties navigate the debt collection process with greater ease and fairness.

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