Once a certain amount of time has elapsed, a debt collector, credit card company, or creditor can no longer file suit against you to collect on the debt, but you still have to worry about a collector trying to collect this zombie debt.
What is a Zombie Debt?
Zombie debt is old debt that is usually charged off as bad debt by the original creditor and later sold to a collection agency.
In many cases, zombie debt is legally unenforceable, meaning that, unlike your current creditors, zombie debt collectors cannot sue you to collect the debt.
But, there is no law against trying to collect the debt, and many consumers end up paying the debt.
How zombie debt works
Debt collectors cannot take you to court for zombie debts, but they may contact you to collect the debt.
The cost to buy expired debt is often low, so when consumers agree to repay their old debts, zombie-debt collectors can earn decent profits.
Debts that zombie-debt collectors try to collect
If you completed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your unsecured debts may be discharged, which means you are no longer obligated to pay these debts.
- Time-barred debt
Except for federal student loans, most debts have a statute of limitations. This means after a certain amount of time has passed, a debt collector can no longer sue you to collect on the debt.
The statute of limitations on debt in Georgia usually ranges from four to six years.
- Debt that is not yours
A debt collector mixes you up with another consumer, or someone could steal your identity and make fraudulent charges in your name.
Even though it is not your debt, the debt collector will try to collect from you.
How to protect yourself from zombie debt collectors
If a zombie debt collector continues to call you even though your debt is time-barred or the debt is not yours, consider taking one of the following approaches.
- Tell the debt collector to stop contacting you
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act [the “FDCPA”], you have the right to tell a debt collector not to contact you.
If a zombie-debt collector violates the FDCPA by harassing or threatening to sue you, contact a consumer rights attorney immediately.
- Ask the zombie debt collector to validate the debt
If you are unsure whether a debt belongs to you, contact the creditor and ask for a validation notice. This notice should contain the amount of the debt, who the original creditor is, and when the debt was incurred. Compare this to your records.
If the debt is not yours or the amount is incorrect, send a dispute letter to the creditor and contact a consumer’s rights lawyer.
Contact an Atlanta Debt Defense Lawyer
A debt collection defense attorney has experience standing up against debt collection agencies. They can provide you with the legal representation you need when dealing with any debt collection issue.
The bottom line
If a debt collector contacts you about a debt that has expired, has already been paid off, or does not belong to you, you are not legally responsible for repaying it.
If you are dealing with any debt collection legal matter in Atlanta, GA, call the skilled consumer rights lawyer at Diwan Law, LLC. Call 404-635-6883 to schedule an initial consultation today.
Diwan Law is qualified to handle debt collection matters involving the following types of debt (not an exhaustive list):
- Credit Card Debt
- Department Store / Retail Debt
- Car, Truck, Vehicle, Auto Loans
- Boat and other Recreational Vehicle Loans
- Home Loans
- Personal Loans