It’s 5pm, you and your family are getting ready to sit down for a quiet, peaceful dinner when it happens. Out of nowhere, your phone suddenly jumps to life. Vibrating and playing its familiar tones. Unsuspecting you answer only to become the next victim of The Living Debt!
An old debt that has exceeded the statute of limitations for collection is known as Zombie Debt. Collection agencies will purchase this debt for pennies on the dollar in hopes that the can still collect on this expired debt. While the practice is not illegal, sometimes the threats they make are. Debt collectors will push the envelope of collection practices to get unsuspecting debtors to fork up cash they legally do not owe. Harassing phone calls, threatening to sue and calling relatives is not uncommon. So, what can you do? Knowing your rights and the tools available to you can be a powerful weapon against these crooked scoundrels.
According to Bankrate, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from Zombie Debt Collectors. Here are 7 tips that can really help.
1. Be careful, you may revive the old debt if you don’t know what you are doing!
If you don’t know your rights as a debtor, you can inadvertently reactivate the old account making you liable for the old debt that normally would be dissolved. One tactic that debt collectors will use is to ask you to “Pay Something” on this old debt. Many people who want to do the right thing may offer $10-$20 just to get the phone calls to stop. Sometimes just admitting to the debt can be enough for Debt collectors to proceed with collecting the debt.What can you do and say? Read through the rest of this article to learn how to correctly handle companies trying to collect on an old debt.
2. Know Your Credit
Whether you are being pursued by debt collectors or not, having a good overview of your credit is a must.Be sure to familiarize yourself with all open accounts and collections on all 3 credit reporting bureau. This includes: Transunion, Equifax and Experian. Online services such as CreditKarma do a great job of providing this information for free. You can also get a copy of your credit report here. Does the debt in question appear on your report? If it does, chances are, its affecting your credit score. Its advisable to dispute the debt not only with the collection agency but also the bureau its appearing on.
3. Don’t be afraid of the threats
Threatening to sue for an expired debt is illegal. Do not fall for this tactic. Debt collectors can only collect if the debt is:
• The Debt is Valid
• The Debt is Yours
• They own it
4. Put an end to the harassment
If you are constantly being contacted for a zombie debt, there is a simple trick to get them to stop, tell them! You can request that they do not call you but that may not work in all circumstances. You can send what is called a “Drop Dead” letter which is another term for a cease and desist letter. You can find pre-made letters here. Just complete the forms and mail them to your creditors.Keep track of the date you mailed it as well as getting a delivery notification.
Another option at your disposal is obtaining legal assistance. In some cases you may be qualified to get financial compensation. To lean more about this option, you can go to StopCallsNow.org
5. More Zombie fighting tools, the debt validation letter
Another letter you can send is a “Debt Validation Letter“. Debt collectors must respond within 30 days with the following information:
• The amount of the debt.
• The name of the collections agency.
• The original creditor.
• The original account number.
6. Know what your state’s statute of limitations are
Every state has a specific period that allows the fair collection of debt. While some states may be 3 years, some states may allow a debt to be collected up to 6 years.The best thing to do is a quick search for the Statute of limitation for debt collection in your state. Knowing the law can mean the difference between winning and losing the battle against these debt zombies.
7. If you choose to just settle
Have that guilty conscience eating you up? You can offer to settle the debt if you want. Here is some advice if you choose to go this route. Offer to pay without acknowledging the debt. Tell them that you know that the debt is not your obligation, but you wish to settle. Ask for a settlement offer in writing. This will provide proof in the future if a problem arises.
You are now armed for battle against the dreaded Zombie Debt. If you would like more information regarding old debt, check out the original article on Bankrate.