Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Is there a statute of limitations on collections of unsecured debt? This debt is unsecured credit card debt that is over 10 years old, and it is collection agencies trying to collect this debt. No bankrupt filing was made. Also, is it possible to get these collection agencies to quit calling? Can these collection agencies who have gotten judgments against me garnish my paychecks?

David, Fargo

Thanks for writing! I asked the state Attorney General’s Office to review your questions. Here’s what a spokeswoman told me:

“The questions aren’t really ‘ask your government,’ but more of ‘ask an attorney.’ We can’t answer legal questions.

“We don’t even have jurisdiction to take complaints about collection agencies. The best I can do for you is a link to a general explanation of the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, which you can access at www.ag.nd.gov/Brochures/FactSheet/FactSheet.htm.”

The state’s fact sheet on the topic includes the following:

“The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly by prohibiting certain methods of debt collection. Harassment, threats of bodily harm or the advertisement of your debt is prohibited.

“You can stop a debt collector from contacting you at all by writing a letter telling it to stop. After that, the debt collector may only contact you to say there will be no further contact or to notify you that some specific action will be taken. Remember, that does not stop the debt collection activities.

“You can file a complaint against a debt collector by contacting the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions at (701) 328-9933.”

I also sent your question to the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions. Here’s what Chris Ludwig, consumer licensing investigator/

examiner, said:

“I am not an attorney and this information should not be considered legal advice. Provisions for statue of limitations can be found in North Dakota Century Code Chapter 28-01. Our department recommends consumers refer to legal counsel when looking to see what actions must be commenced within certain time frames.

“Collection agencies and creditors can attempt to collect debts that may be past the statue of limitations. They are just limited as to their right to take legal action.

“A collection agency that has obtained a judgment can garnish wages in compliance with North Dakota law. This is something that would require legal action through the courts.”

Dear Teri,

Did North Dakota go along with the 55-mph speed limit on its highways when the U.S. had the energy crisis back in 1973 after the OPEC oil embargo? I believe that the 55-mph limit was imposed nationally by Congress. And then, when did North Dakota authorize higher speed limits?

Steve Hoffbeck

Barnesville, Minn.

Thanks for the question! Here’s what Jamie Olson of the North Dakota Department of Transportation found:

“In January 1974, pursuant to Congress, the North Dakota Legislature established a maximum highway speed limit for all public highways of 55 miles per hour. This was for the purpose of conserving fuel during the periods of current and eminent fuel shortages.

“In 1987, Congress allowed individual states to set speed limits. Therefore, the North Dakota Legislature set speed limits on I-29 and I-94 at 65 mph.

“In 1997, the state Legislature passed the following speed limits:

  • Interstate system: 70 mph
  • Four-lane state highway: 65 mph
  • Two-lane state highway: 65 mph during the day, 55 mph during night.

“In 2003, the state Legislature passed the following speed limits:

  • Interstate system: 75 mph
  • Four-lane divided state highway: 70 mph.”

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman, c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

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