Credit Card Debt & Loans

Unpaid Cell Phone Bill Collections: Understanding the Statute of Limitations

Unpaid Cell Phone Bill Collections: Understanding the Statute of Limitations
Reviewed by Nima Vahdat
Updated August 21, 2023

If you’ve recently received a call from debt collectors demanding payment for an old unpaid cell phone bill, it’s crucial to know your rights and the statute of limitations. 

In the United States, the statute of limitations on cell phone carrier debt is two years. This means that after two years from the date of the last activity on the debt, you can no longer be legally sued for payment. 


  • Unpaid cell phone bills in collections are subject to the statute of limitations of two years. 
  • The three steps to take regarding an unpaid cell phone bill are to get the facts, know your rights, and make a plan. 
  • There are different actions to take when the unpaid cell phone bill in collections is past the statute of limitations and within the statute of limitations… and completely different actions when the unpaid cell phone bill was incorrectly assigned to you!

It’s essential to tread carefully and know your rights, as debt collectors might still attempt to pressure you for payment, even if the debt has surpassed its statute of limitations.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations on Cell Phone Debt

Debts, including cell phone bills, are subject to statute of limitations, which are typically defined by state governments. However, cell phone debt has a federal statute of limitations of two years. 

Once this two-year period has elapsed, the debt is considered “time-barred,” meaning you cannot be legally sued to force payment. 

However, there’s a catch. 

Making even a single payment on an old cell phone bill can revive the debt, turning it into a so-called “zombie debt.” This payment restarts the statute of limitations, putting you at risk of facing a lawsuit for payment.

3 Steps To Take Regarding An Old Cell Phone Bill

Dealing with debt collectors can be overwhelming, but following these steps can help protect your rights when faced with an old cell phone bill:

STEP 1 – Get the Facts: Legitimate debt collectors are required to send you a debt validation letter within five business days of their initial contact. This letter will provide essential information about the alleged debt you owe. Review the details carefully to ensure the debt is accurate and indeed yours.

STEP 2 – Know Your Rights: Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you have specific protections against abusive debt collection practices. Familiarize yourself with your rights, and use them to shield yourself from harassment or unfair treatment by debt collectors.

STEP 3 – Make a Plan: The best course of action depends on whether the debt is past the statute of limitations and whether it is genuinely yours. 

Is the debt past the statute of limitations, or within the statute of limitations? Is the debt even yours? Let’s cover those situations below…

What To Do If The Cell Phone Debt Is Past The Statute of Limitations

Although you cannot be sued for payment, the debt remains valid, and you may still feel morally obligated to pay it. 

Alternatively, you can choose to ignore the debt as long as it’s beyond the statute of limitations. 

Under your FDCPA rights, you have the authority to request the debt collector to stop contacting you. However, if the debt is sold to another collector, you might be contacted again in the future.

What To Do If The Debt Is Still Within The Statute of Limitations

For cell phone bills still within the statute of limitations, explore payment options to resolve the collections account. 

Paying the debt will put an end to the collection efforts. Make sure to validate the debt before making any payments to ensure its accuracy.

Actions To Take If The Unpaid Cell Phone Debt Is Not Yours

If you are being asked to pay a debt that isn’t yours, dispute it immediately. 

Errors in debt collection are common, and you might be dealing with a misinformed debt collector. According to the FDCPA, debt collection efforts must halt once you dispute the debt.

Don’t Ignore Lawsuits For Old Unpaid Cell Phone Debts

Even if the debt is past the statute of limitations, ignoring a lawsuit can have serious consequences. 

It can result in wage garnishment or a bank levy, impacting your financial situation significantly. So if you have been served with a lawsuit, it is wise to seek legal counsel.

Final Thoughts On Unpaid Cell Phone Bill Collections

In conclusion, understanding the statute of limitations on cell phone debt is crucial to safeguard your rights and financial well-being. Knowing how to handle debt collection efforts, whether the debt is time-barred or not, empowers you to make informed decisions and protect your interests. 

If you find yourself facing an unpaid cell phone bill, reach out to a reputable debt relief company like Americor for expert guidance and support in navigating the complex world of debt collections. 

For more information on Americor’s debt relief services, contact us today to see how we can help you pay off your unsecured debt – including credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, along with unpaid cell phone bills in collections and get on the fast-track to becoming completely debt-free!