Zombie debt can be terrifying
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The Walking Dead finale on Sunday annoyed and angered millions of fans as we were left with a heartbreaking cliffhanger. We won’t know until October who Negan killed. But as bad as the walkers are on the hit AMC show, there’s something almost as terrifying in real life – zombie debt! Sounds strange, but it’s a real thing – here’s what you need to know – tips for Garner, North Carolina residents battling zombie debt collectors.
What is zombie debt?
“Zombie debt” is basically debt from beyond the land of living debt. It is either very old debt or debt that you do not really owe. It’s not on your mind because it’s been so long since you’ve seen it and then out of nowhere it strikes. A debt collector calls and starts hassling you about something from a decade ago – or from an account you paid off in full or through a negotiated settlement. It might even be a debt that was included in a prior bankruptcy.
What are debt scavengers?
“Debt scavengers” are debt collection firms that specialize in zombie debt. They buy up very old accounts and then try to harass people into paying them through extraordinary tactics like threats, cursing, and other verbal abuse. Their tactics are often illegal, mostly shady, and designed to intimidate. To avoid falling prey to zombie debt and debt scavengers, you need to know what debt collectors can and cannot do when it comes to older debt so you can protect yourself.
When does debt expire?
If you don’t pay a debt, technically you owe it no matter how old it is – unless it was discharged in bankruptcy or extinguished in another legal proceeding. However, after the statute of limitations expires – in North Carolina this is usually three years for most debt (student loans excluded) – there is no legal recourse. That means the original creditor or a debt collector who bought the debt cannot sue you over the debt. The only tool in their arsenal is trying to collect directly from you.
What can you do about zombie debt collectors?
The main goal of a debt collector working with zombie debt is to get you to pay anything on the debt. They often buy debt in bulk and pay pennies on the dollar so a $2000 credit card account might have cost $20 or less. If they can convince you to pay a few hundred dollars to “settle” the debt, then anything over the $20 is profit. The reason debt scavengers still exist is that their threat and intimidation tactics work – they are able to collect enough to make it profitable to them.
Why do Garner, North Carolina consumers pay zombie debt?
The main reason Garner NC residents might pay on a zombie debt is to get the harassment to stop. If you can pay $100 to make endless phone calls and threats go away, it seems worth it. However, if the debt scavenger has more than one old debt of yours in their portfolio, paying one debt could only intensify the effort rather than getting them to go away. It’s best not to feed a zombie at all – otherwise it will keep coming back.
How to deal with zombie debts
If you are contacted by a debt collector for a debt that is old, that you don’t owe, or that is not yours, here’s what to do:
#1 First verify that the debt has expired the statute of limitations. Don’t ask the debt collector – they may lie. Get the original creditor information and pull your credit report to see if it is still listed and active.
#2 Once you do #1, tell the debt collector they may no longer contact you via phone. You need to get the name of the firm and their mailing address and make the request in writing as well with proof of delivery of certified mail.
#3 If they continue to call, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), North Carolina Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). If they call, tell them you have reported them.
#4 If they won’t stop calling, you may have to change your phone number. That’s a hassle, but it may be best. If the creditor sends letters threatening you with a lawsuit or jail time or other action they cannot take, report them again.
#5 Don’t believe their threats – they cannot send you to jail, call your boss and tell them about the debt, put an expired debt back on your credit report, take your house, or any other scare tactics they might employ.
If you’re dealing with debt you can’t pay, come to the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt to find out more about a Garner, North Carolina bankruptcy. Call +1-919-646-2654 now for a free consultation there or in one of our other locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington. Get the financial peace of mind you deserve.