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How to Deal With Zombie Debt

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  • How to Deal With Zombie Debt

    How to Deal With Zombie Debt

    A very good 'WikiHow' of the Day

    Collecting old debts - even debts that you aren't legally responsible for - is becoming a very profitable venture. Companies can buy those debts (sometimes referred to as "junk debt") for pennies to the dollar, then go after the people who they think are most likely to pay up. A phone call can turn into badgering, harassment, threats to sue, and other inappropriate (and sometimes illegal) actions. If you ever get a collector asking you to pay up on a debt that's "come back to life", here's how to make sure your rights aren't violated.


    1. Do not acknowledge the debt. If you're not sure whether you actually owe the debt, don't say anything that could indicate that the debt is yours, and certainly do not agree to make any kind of payment. Doing this can give the company the legal right to collect the debt, which they might not have had if you didn't acknowledge the debt.

    2. Don't fall for any traps.
    • illegally "re-aging" debts (reporting the old debt to the credit bureaus as if it's new)
    • promising to wipe off a red checkmark on a credit report
    • bait-and-switch credit card offers (they tack on the balance of the zombie debt)

    3. Get it in writing. Ask for proof that you owe the debt, like the credit card agreement you originally signed, along with an account history. If they don't have that proof then they don't have the right to take action against you. Again, make sure you don't acknowledge the debt. Keep repeating: "I want to see evidence of this debt in writing. I do not acknowledge this debt."

    4. Check the statute of limitations to make sure you're not responsible for the debt anymore. The statute of limitations essentially defines how much time you can go without paying a debt before a collector's right to collect through the court system expires. Every state in the US has different rules and exceptions regarding when the time period officially begins, how long it lasts, and what can "revive" the statutory period, so you really do need to check the laws or consult an attorney in your own state. Until you can do that, however, keep the following in mind:[1]
    • Even if the statute of limitation expired, agencies can still try to collect the debt; they just can't do it through the court system. (If your debt was discharged through bankruptcy, they can't attempt to collect it at all.)
    • Moving to a different state, even temporarily, can affect the length of your statutory period.
    • Do not allow the collector to convince you to make a payment to "show your good intentions" (such as if you're on your way to court). This can "reset" the statutory period and essentially bring the debt back from the dead.
    • If the statute of limitations has expired, and you don't meet the criteria in your state for extending it, send a letter to the collectors stating those facts.

    5. Write a letter explaining that you are not responsible for the debt, you do NOT acknowledge it, and you demand they stop harassing you or you will take legal action. If you've done your homework and you know that you are not responsible for the debt (such as if your statute of limitations expired and you don't meet the criteria in your state for extending it, or you declared bankruptcy), send them a letter through certified mail and get a return receipt. If you've filed for bankruptcy, send them your discharge order with your letter. If they insist on taking you to court, be prepared to tell the judge that you notified the collector in writing that the statute had expired.

    6. Watch your credit report carefully. They might try to report the debt or taint your credit history. As mentioned earlier, collectors could post an old debt as if it's new, or lie about the date of delinquency (in an attempt to start a new statutory period). Dispute any questionable entries with the credit bureau and the agency. Again, asking for proof of the debt as advised earlier can make their claims invalid.

    TipsWarningsSources and Citations
    'Zombie' debt is hard to kill - MSN Money

    1. ↑
    2. ↑
    "To go bravely forward is to invite a miracle."

    "Worry is the darkroom where negatives are formed."

  • #2
    � Do not negotiate with collection agencies. You owe nothing to them unless you signed a contract with them. If you intend to pay off the debt, contact the original creditor and make arrangements exclusively with them. In all likelihood, the debt was charged off by the creditor, and they will not take an interest in recovering it. If it is charged off, you are free from that burden. Pen a cease and desist to the collector, citing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and advise them that further action will result in your pursuit of legal recourse against them.[2]
    The above is largely false and has been deleted from the original article. A charge off by the creditor does not mean you do not owe the debt. The creditor can still try to collect a charged off debt or sell the debt. A collection agency who buys the debt does have a right to collect from you. If a collection agency did not buy the debt, but is collecting on behalf of the original creditor, it is true that you don't have to talk to them. But, the original creditor also doesn't have to talk to you if they don't want to.
    LadyInTheRed is in the black!
    Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
    $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!


    • #3
      The easiest and safest way to deal with a zombie debt collector is to just send them this letter:

      [THE DATE]
      [YOUR NAME]





      And it really is that simple.

      I usually just look up the debt collector on google and then find their website, and usually they have an email address listed in the contact section of their website. I just simply send the letter by email, making sure I use an email address that is not used for anything other than sending emails to debt collectors (so they can't use my email address to find out any other information about me). I personally would use a gmail address or a yahoo address. Never any email address used for work or anything I didn't want a debt collector to know about.

      Most importantly, notice that I never used the word "debt" and I never acknowledged the debt nor made any promises to pay the debt or to reaffirm the debt.

      In my vast experience in these matters, this letter works great.

      If you are worried that they are going to sue you, then simply add this wording to the letter:

      [THE DATE]
      [YOUR NAME]





      The world's simplest C & D Letter:
      "I demand that you cease and desist from any communication with me."
      Notice that I never actually mention or acknowledge the debt in my letter.


      • #4
        I stand corrected.

        Some very old debts, way past the statute of limitations, can sometimes be brought back by unethical debt collectors as ACCOUNT STATED.

        What they will do is just start sending you billing statements for a few months, and then if you don't respond to them and dispute them, they file a lawsuit against you and attempt to win by the "account stated" method. While you can still defeat that in court, it is best to lay your groundwork with a paper trail of disputes against the alleged account.

        You do that by sending a letter disputing the validity of the debt immediately (rather than the cease and desist letter) as soon as any of these things happens....

        1. They send you a bill in the mail.

        2. They call you on the phone. (find their mailing address and send them a dispute letter even if they haven't sent you anything in the mail yet.)

        3. They appear anywhere on your credit report. (such as the inquiries section, for example.)

        This is the simple letter I would send them FIRST...

        "In accordance with the FDCPA, I dispute the validity, and I request written verification from you.

        It is inconvenient for me to receive telephone calls from you. Do not call me on the phone."

        And send it by certified mail, in this case. This is the only one I would send by certified mail. This is your evidence that you disputed the debt and when you disputed it.

        With a zombie debt collector, I would keep it that simple and that short. Remember, this is just the first letter. You can follow up with the other letters later.

        The main thing is that you now have a paper trail of disputing the alleged debt.

        That pulls the rug out from under the "account stated" lawsuit method.
        The world's simplest C & D Letter:
        "I demand that you cease and desist from any communication with me."
        Notice that I never actually mention or acknowledge the debt in my letter.


        • #5
          And this is why you should [never] make any payment on a debt that is beyond the statute of limitations-- they sued this guy after he sent them a payment...

          Last edited by AngelinaCat; 09-04-2013, 06:02 PM. Reason: added the word in brackets to make the post make sense.
          The world's simplest C & D Letter:
          "I demand that you cease and desist from any communication with me."
          Notice that I never actually mention or acknowledge the debt in my letter.


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