Credit card debt is one of the most significant sources of debt that people across Florida carry. If you are like many people, you may have ended up relying more on your credit card during the recent recession than you were prepared to. Since then, you may have only been able to make minimum payments, if that, and the fees and penalties of late or insufficient payments have likely stacked up.

This is an unfortunate but not uncommon situation. While it can feel like you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of unpaid debt and penalties, you need to understand that you have rights and protections in place. For example, you have the right to discuss your situation with an attorney and figure out how to address your situation. You are also protected from legal action if the debt is time-barred.

Time-barred debts are those that are not paid within a certain period of time. There are statutes of limitations in place in every state that dictate how long debt collectors have to take legal action against a person for unpaid debt.

These limitations depend on the type of contract that is in place. As noted in this article, these limitations are set at five years with a written contract and four year with an oral contract in Florida.

What this means is that once debt has been unpaid for four of five years, depending on the type of contract, you cannot be sued. The Federal Trade Commission notes that the clock on these debts starts when the first payment has been missed. It can be stopped and restarted, however, whenever a payment is made.

This doesn’t mean the debt itself will go away, and this is very important for people to understand. It can still affect your credit rating and make it very expensive to get services that depend on a person’s credit history.

If you are dealing with aging credit card debt, you need to know your options and your rights in order to determine how you want to proceed. Discussing your individual situation with an attorney can help you identify a solution without giving up your rights.