You don’t have to be facing bankruptcy to be a victim of zombie debt collectors.
So, what is zombie debt?
Zombie debt is debt that is very old or is no longer actually owed. It’s called zombie debt because the debt has “come back from the dead” to haunt or “get” you. This type of debt is usually bought for literally pennies on the dollar from the original creditor or a debt collection agency.
These debt buyers hope to trick you into paying on the loan or debt to “bring it back to life.” Once you make a payment, that old loan is reactivated and these unscrupulous zombie debt collectors or “scavengers” can now attempt to force you to pay the full amount.
How to kill off zombie debt collectors
There are ways you can protect yourself that do not involve firearms, gasoline or a “double tap.” The first thing to know is which debts are active and are yours. Some collectors will go after the wrong person because both people have the same or similar names! Make sure when someone contacts you for a viable debt they have the correct person.
Debts you no longer owe
The other information you need to know is which of your debts have been forgiven or dismissed (for example through bankruptcy) or are beyond the statute of limitations and are not longer viable. Generally debts older than seven years are no longer “alive.”
Once you are clear on what you actually owe you will be able to rightfully tell these debt scavengers just where they can put their harassment and illegal tactics.
How zombie debt collectors lure you in
Many people have fallen prey to the unsavory tactics of scavenger collectors. These collectors take their job seriously and they can be savvy. They are calculating. They understand how to make you feel guilty. They will attempt to persuade you to “just pay what you can.” They might tell you to “pay a small amount” and then promise to leave you alone. Some are aggressive and threaten to sue you. Others may pretend to be acting on behalf of a law firm.
Five ways to protect yourself
If a zombie debt collector contacts you, you do have recourse.
- Simply refuse to talk to them.
- Make them prove that both the debt and their company are legit.
- Do your own research on the debt supposedly owed and the company or individual contacting you.
- If you suspect it is zombie debt, do not pay it. Do not admit you owe anything.
- Tell the person or company to stop harassing you or you will hire a lawyer.
The best way to avoid being haunted by zombie debt is to know your credit history, and your rights. If you are being harassed by debt collectors you can get the help you need from a qualified consumer protection attorney.