Zombie debt is when a debt collector restarts collection efforts for an outstanding sum. Generally speaking, the outstanding sum will belong to an old debt with such low chances of successful collection that collection efforts were stopped, with the result that it was then sold on at a much-reduced price to a debt collector interested in playing a numbers game. However, zombie debt can show up for other reason as well. For example, debt collectors have been known to attempt to collect on debt that has already been paid off. Likewise, debt collectors have been known to attempt to collect on debt that was never known to the supposed debtor.
Why Is Zombie Debt So Bad?
Most people tend to be less than enthused by the thought of being hounded by debt collectors. After all, debt collectors have designed their collection efforts to convince their targets to make payments, which can be pretty unpleasant for said individuals to say the least. For instance, both harrassing calls and harrassing letters are very common. Furthermore, it isn’t unknown for debt collectors to seek wage garnishment if they feel that the results will be worth the additional effort.
Having said that, zombie debt is particulaly bad when interested individuals have no idea what the debt collectors are talking about. In part, this is because of the very understandable sense of injustice that is bound to rise up when someone is harrassed for something for which they have no fault. However, it should also be mentioned that such a scenario could indicate something seriously wrong with said individual’s finances. For instance, if they have no recollection of a debt that was taken out using their name, that could be a sign that their personal information has been stolen for years and years. Something that provides more than enough reason for serious concern.
How Can You Get Rid of Zombie Debt?
Here are some suggestions for what interested individuals should do when zombie debt shows up:
Don’t Rush to Make a Payment
Interested individuals should never rush to make a payment. Information can undergo a process of decay when it is passed from institution to institution, meaning that there is no guarantee that the debt collectors are actually attempting to collect on something owned by their target. Moreover, if interested individuals do make a payment, they will find the debt resurrected on their credit report, thus making it that much more difficult for them to get out of the mess in the future.
Figure Out What Is Going On
First and foremost, interested individuals need to figure out what is going on. This means asking the debt collectors for written proof that the debt is valid, that the debt was sold by the original creditor, and whatever other information that the debt collectors might have on the outstanding sum. Until interested individuals get a clear idea of what is going on, they should do absolutely nothing. In fact, they shouldn’t even acknowledge that the debt is theirs in any way because that could be used as evidence against them if they are careless.
Check the Information with Personal Records
Any information given out by the debt collectors should be checked against interested individuals’ own records. This way, interested individuals can increase their chances of figuring out whether the debt is theirs or not. Something that can help them make up their minds about their next step.
On a related note, interested individuals will want to keep those documents well-guarded. After all, they are going to be relying on those documents to support their claims if they ever have to defend their side of the story. Naturally, this means that interested individuals should keep a good hold on everything sent to them by the debt collectors.
Figure Out What Kind of Zombie Debt It Is
Eventually, interested individuals will have figure out what kind of zombie debt that they are being confronted by. Sometimes, they will be confronted by something that was never taken out by them. Should this happen, they should be prepared to challenge the outstanding sum. Furthermore, if this happens, they should be getting a copy of their credit report to see whether there are other points of potential concern listed upon it. Other times, interested individuals might encounter zombie debt because of something that was actually borrowed by them. When that happens, they will want to figure out if it has passed the statute of limitations. If so, they should avoiding making a payment unless they have made up their mind to tackle such a huge issue. In contrast, if interested individuals are prepared to pay, they should make sure to get a written agreement for their payment befor making it.
Understand Consumer Protections
Interested individuals need to remember that there are consumer protections meant to protect them. For example, they can’t be sued for debts that have exceeded the statute of limitations, meaning that they will want to know the exact number sooner rathe than later. Likewise, debt collectors are not permitted to lie about the details of the uncollected debts, meaning that they can get into serious trouble if they lie about what is going on. On top of this, there are rules about who the debt collectors can and cannot contact under what circumtances, which is definitely something that interested individuals will want to familiarize themselves with. If interested individuals think that the debt collectors have violated one or more of these rules, they should record their communications so that they can prove their claims should the need come up in the future.
Summed up, interested individuals should never do as the debt collectors say until they have gotten a clear idea of what is going on. There are plenty of cases in which debt collectors have sought to collect on invalid debts, meaning that this comes with a real chance of making a payment when a payment was never necessary. Moreover, interested individuals should know that debt collectors will use all sorts of unpleasant tactics for them to make a mistake by paying without thinking too much about it, meaning that they need to resist that temptation so that they can be in a better state of mind before actually taking action.