Debt Collection in Maine: A Guide for Creditors

Guy Benhanan
April 28, 2023

Key Takeaways:

If you're a creditor in Maine, it's essential to know how to legally and efficiently practice debt collection. In this article, we will provide legal advice that'll cover everything you need to know about debt collection in Maine. From understanding the laws to the best practices, we will help you navigate the process and collect your debts successfully.

Understanding Maine Debt Collection Laws

Before you start collecting debts, it's crucial to understand the laws that govern the process. In Maine, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) outlines the rules that creditors must follow when collecting debts.

Some of the key provisions of the FDCPA include:

Maine Statute of Limitations on Debt

The Statute of Limitations in Maine determines the period within which legal action can be taken to collect a debt, and it is 6 years from the date of the debtor's last activity on the debt.

What does the 'last activity' mean?

In the context of debt collection, the term 'last activity' on an account refers to the date when the most recent change or transaction occurred on the account. This could include any updates or modifications made to the account, such as changes in balance or the account being marked by debt collector as settled.

Statutes of Limitations in Maine: At a Glance

The chart below highlights some of the common civil statutes of limitations in Maine.

Source: Maine State Legislature

Maine Statute of Limitations in Debt Laws

Maine Statute of Limitations in Debt Laws

In Maine, the Statutes of Limitations impose a time frame during which creditors can initiate legal proceedings to collect debts. It is crucial to note that the duration of the Statutes of Limitations varies based on the type of debt contract. For instance, the unpaid debt in Maine and the deadline for filing lawsuits depend on whether the agreement in the contract is written or oral.

According to the Maine debt law under the 14 Me. Rev. Stat. § 752 (2020), civil actions must be commenced within six years after the cause of action accrues, except for actions on a judgment or decree of any court of record of the United States, or of any state, or of a justice of the peace in this State, and except as otherwise specifically provided.

Now, let's delve deeper into how written and oral contracts work.

Written Contracts and Open Accounts

The State of Maine imposes a Statute of Limitations of 20 years for companies filing a lawsuit to collect most debts arising from written contracts, according to the 14 Me. Rev. Stat. § 751 (2020).

Maine law specifies that personal actions on contracts or liabilities under seal, promissory notes signed in the presence of the plaintiff or an attesting witness, or on the bills, notes, or other evidences of debt issued by a company or a bank must be commenced within 20 years after the cause of action accrues, except as provided in Title 11, sections 2-725 and 3-1118, subsection (1).

Some examples of accounts in Maine that fall under written contracts may include:

  • credit cards
  • promissory notes
  • mortgages
  • car loans
  • furniture accounts
  • in-store credit cards/accounts
  • gym memberships

It is essential to note that the debt might be uncollectible if no notice or a letter of proof of payment has been made on the person or account for over four years.

However, certain situations could "restart" the Statute of Limitations on old debts, as discussed below:

  • Making a payment on the account
  • Acknowledging the debt in writing
  • Agreeing to make a payment on the debt
  • Making a partial payment on the debt
  • Agreeing to a new payment plan for the debt

It is crucial for consumers to have a solid understanding of the Statutes of Limitations in Maine and their respective time frames to make informed decisions when dealing with creditors and avoid any legal complications.

Oral Contracts

In Maine, lenders have a period of six years to file a lawsuit for a breach of an oral contract, as stated in the Maine oral contract law under the 14 Me. Rev. Stat. § 752 (2020).

An oral contract typically involves a promise to pay and can be enforced, but it is much more challenging to collect. To pursue an oral contract, the lender or attorney must first prove documentation that you promised to repay the debt.

Since there is a shorter statute of limitations for oral contracts, lenders are encouraged to act promptly and collect the debt while there is still evidence of its existence. It is essential to be aware and keep in mind that the Statutes of Limitations in Maine vary based on the type of the debt owed or contract, and it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the respective time frames. This knowledge can help you make informed decisions when dealing with creditors in court and avoid any legal complications.


In Maine, a creditor or debt collector can file a debt collection lawsuit to obtain a judgment, which is a court order that confirms your debt obligation. This judgment gives the holder additional legal remedies to collect the debt you owe them, such as seizing assets and wage garnishment in Maine law.

The Statute of Limitations for a judgment in Maine is 20 years, as stated in Title 14, Section 864. However, a creditor may request the court to renew the judgment, which could extend the deadline to collect beyond 20 years. This means that the state house original creditor still can attempt to collect on the judgment if you receive money or assets from state house that are not exempt from collection or if your income increases.

It is the most important thing to note that every judgment and decree of any court of record of the United States or any state, or justice of the peace in this State is presumed to be paid and satisfied at the end of 20 years after any duty or obligation accrued by virtue of such judgment or decree, except for a child support order. This presumption of payment after 20 years further emphasizes the significance of the Statutes of Limitations in Maine law and the importance of both parties taking prompt legal action when dealing with creditors.

Steps for Collecting Debt in Maine

Maine Debt Collection

Now that you understand the laws, here are the steps you should take when collecting debts from debt collectors in Maine:

Step 1: Verify the Debt

Before you contact the debt collector and start collecting the debt, make sure you have all the necessary contact information. Verify that the mailing address for the debt collector is valid and that you have the correct amount of money owed.

Step 2: Notify the Debtor

Once you've verified the debt, you must notify the debtor in writing. The notification should include:

Step 3: Negotiate Payment

After your notice and notifying the debtor, you as current creditor can begin negotiating payment. Be willing to work with the debtor to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Step 4: Consider Legal Action

If negotiation fails, you may need to consider other forms of legal action. In Maine, for example, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court for debts up to $6,000.

For debts over $6,000, you may need to file a lawsuit in district court.

Step 5: Hire a Debt Collection Agency

If legal action fails, or if you simply do not want to pursue it, you may want to consider calling or hiring a debt collection agency. These debt collection agencies specialize in recovering debts and have the expertise and resources to do so. They can negotiate with debtors, locate assets, and use legal means to collect the money owed to you. However, it's important to note that some debt collectors may use aggressive tactics or violate consumer protection laws, so be sure to research and choose a reputable agency.

Final Thoughts

Collecting debts in Maine can be a challenging process, but with the right knowledge and strategies, you can increase your chances of success. Remember to follow the laws and best practices, and be persistent in your efforts. By doing so, you'll be able to collect your debts and move on to more important things.

Frequently Asked Questions on Dealing with Old Debts in Maine

How long before a debt to become uncollectible in Maine?

In Maine, a debt becomes uncollectible after six years due to the statute of limitations.

What is the statute of limitations on debt collections in Maine?

The debt collection process cannot be initiated by a debt collector after 6 years have passed since the consumer's last activity on the debt. This time limit is applicable regardless of any other statute of limitations, unless the state's laws specify a shorter time limit.

What can I do if I have old debts that I cannot pay?

You have several options. You may pay off the debt in full, seek Maine debt relief, explore debt payoff planning, or file for bankruptcy.

If the statute of limitations has expired, can I still be sued for the debt?

While the statute of limitations on debt collectors may have expired, it is still possible to be sued for the wrong amount. It is the most important thing to talk with or consult a lawyer before paying an old debt in full.

What should I do if I receive a debt collection lawsuit?

Do not ignore it. Talk with a bankruptcy lawyer immediately. Paying a partial payment or a letter acknowledging the debt could restart the statute of limitations.

What is debt settlement, and is it a good option?

Debt settlement involves negotiating lump sum payments for your debts. However, it could cause you to owe income taxes for the written-off debt, and the remaining debt will stay on your credit report. Debt settlement companies can also charge high fees.