The Statute of Limitations on Debt Recovery in Missouri

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Missouri, like all states, limits how long creditors and collection agencies can come after you for unpaid debts. This window of time is the statute of limitations and it differs between states. In Missouri, it varies between two and 10 years depending on debt type. If a debtor waits too long, he will be barred from filing a lawsuit against you.


Bad Checks

Missouri considers it a misdemeanor to write a check for under $500 that is later returned for insufficient funds. It's punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. It's a felony if the returned check was for more than $500 or was returned because the account is closed, or if a person writes several bad checks over 10 days that exceed $500. The penalty for a felony bad check charge is up to five years in prison, $5,000 fine or both. Missouri prosecutors have one year from the date a bad check is passed to prosecute for a misdemeanor and three for a felony. The check recipient also has 10 years to sue the check writer under Missouri's statute of limitations for fraud.


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Unsecured Debt

An unsecured debt is credit issued to a debtor without collateral, such as credit cards and personal loans. In Missouri, creditors have 10 years to sue a debtor with a written contract. The written contract is likely the cardholder agreement for a credit cards or a promissory note for a loan. If the contract for money was verbal, the statute of limitations period decreases to five years. For example, if Jane Doe asks John for a $100 loan while talking over lunch and he agrees, John only has five years to sue Jane if she fails to pay it back.


Secured Debt

Common types of secured debts include mortgage and car loans as collateral. If the debtor fails to meet his obligation, the creditor can take possession of the collateral. For example, if a homeowner is unable to make her mortgage payments, the lender can take the home in a foreclosure action. If the collateral doesn't take care of a debt in full, creditors can sue debtor for the balance. As with other debts based on a written contract, creditors have 10 years to file such lawsuits in Missouri.


State Taxes

If you owe state taxes, Missouri has five years from the filing date to collect any unpaid earnings tax. The statute of limitations for other state taxes is three years. In the case of state income taxes, for example, the state has three years from the date you filed your tax return or from the date your return was due to pursue the unpaid debt. This period may be extended in certain instances, such as when a state return is never filed or a fraudulent one is.