A collection agency must start a legal claim against you within certain legal time limitations, called the statute of limitations. If it does not, it is "time-barred." The claim has expired. The collection agency waited too long. It cannot bring the claim now.
The exact time limit depends on the basis for the debt or type of claim. Most claims based on written contracts governed by Washington law must be begun within 6 years of the date of default on the account (usually the date of the first missed payment). Most claims based on oral contracts must be begun within 3 years of default.
If you make a payment on the account within the statute of limitations period, the time period restarts. The creditor will get another 6 or 3 years (depending on the kind of contract it is) to file a lawsuit.
If you make a payment after the statute of limitations time has expired, that will not restart the time period.
The deadline to file a lawsuit on a credit card debt is September 15, 2023 (6 years from the date of default on the account). The debtor makes a payment on August 15, 2023.
The creditor or collection agency has 6 years from the date of the next default to file a lawsuit.
The deadline to file a lawsuit on credit card debt is September 15, 2023. The creditor or collection agency fails to file a lawsuit before the deadline. The debtor makes a payment on September 30, 2023.
In this situation, the creditor or collection agency may not ever file a lawsuit. The claim has expired.