Who They Are & What You Can Do
Unless you have been living under a rock you know what a zombie is. These resurrected creatures are nearly impossible to kill and will follow you despite your best efforts to stop them. This can, unfortunately, be true for some old debts. Just like regular zombies, a zombie debt is one you thought was long gone but has suddenly come back to life. Zombie debt refers to old debt that has been purchased by debt collectors in hopes of intimidating you into paying the debt. If you have been contacted by a collection agency in regards to a debt you thought was dead and gone, don’t give in immediately. You have several ways to fight back.
The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), gives you the right to verify debts from debt collectors. Within 30 days of being contacted by the collection agency, you can send them a hand-written letter requesting validation of the debt. After the letter has been submitted the collector will send you a response that should include documents from the original collector that proves you owe the debt, the amount you owe is valid, and the agency contacting you is allowed to collect from you.
Even if you know the debt is yours, don’t admit this fact and don’t agree to make even a tiny payment. Doing this could reset the clock on the statute of limitations law, allowing creditors to sue you over the debt.
Know the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the maximum time the debt collector can use the courts to collect on a debt. The time period of the statute varies state by state and starts on the last date of activity on the account. In many cases, collectors cannot legally sue for debt repayment if the debt went into default more than four to six years prior though there are exceptions. That is why it is important to know your local state debt collection laws.
This is why it is important that even if the statute has expired, the collector may still call you in order to get you to pay and reverse the statute. To stop calls, send a cease and desist letter to the collector asking them to stop contacting you.
Dispute on Your Credit Report
If you have gone through the previous steps of requesting validation and the collector has failed to respond to the request, or has not submitted sufficient proof the debt is valid, then the collector cannot legally add the debt to your credit report. In either of the above scenarios, you can have the account deleted from your report by submitting a dispute to the credit bureau Don’t let zombie debt collectors come after you. Know your rights and know your debt. If it does not seem like a collector is going away anytime soon it might be time to consult with my office for additional legal advice.
Written by: Rebecca Kidd
*You may have to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs in the event of a loss.
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