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Battling Zombie Debt Collectors: Know Your Rights and Options

Zombie debt collectors and debt scavengers sound like the villains in a low-budget horror film. In reality, they are much scarier. These very real people and companies specialize in bringing debts back from the dead to haunt innocent consumers.

The term “zombie debt” refers to very old debts or debts that are no longer collectible. These debts may be past the statute of limitations, may belong to someone else, or may have been discharged in a settlement or bankruptcy case. In essence, zombie debt is debt that a consumer probably doesn’t owe.

Zombie debt collectors, also known as debt scavengers, purposefully look for these old debts and purchase them for pennies on the dollar. After they own the debt, they attempt to revive them by harassing consumers into making payments. Even if a consumer can prove that he or she no longer owes the debt or that the debt is owed by someone else, these companies maintain relentless harassment campaigns until someone pays them money.

For instance, zombie debt collectors may threaten consumers with lawsuits even if the statute of limitations has run out. They may promise not to report the debt on a person’s credit report, even if too much time has passed to legally report the debt. They may also threaten to report an old debt as a new debt on a credit report in order to hurt the consumer’s credit. They may engage in verbal harassment or threats, or may misrepresent themselves as attorneys or as part of a law firm. Finally, they may promise to go away in exchange for a small payment. More often than not, harried consumers give in and make such payments in exchange for being left alone.

If a debt scavenger or zombie debt collector targets you or your family it is important to know what to do. First, never engage with a debt scavenger. By speaking with a zombie debt collector, you may inadvertently provide them with information that helps them collect the debt. Whatever you do, do not admit to owing the debt, and do not make any payments until you verify that you owe the debt and that it is still collectable.

Instead, request the collection company’s contact address and hang up the phone. Next, send a certified letter to the company and ask them to verify the debt. Additionally, you can also send a letter telling the company to stop contacting you. The zombie debt collection company must honor these requests or else they are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) as well as Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA).

Finally, contact an experienced debt defense attorney. An attorney like those at Loan Lawyers can review the debt scavenger’s claims against you and determine if you actually owe the debt and if the debt is still collectable. If it is, our attorneys can help you negotiate a reasonable settlement offer or payment plan. If the debt is not collectable or if you are being illegally harassed, we can file claims on your behalf under the FDCPA or FCCPA seeking compensation for the abuse you suffered.

To schedule a free consultation at Loan Lawyers, contact us today at (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813) and learn more about your legal rights.

  • ABC News
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • CBS 4
  • CNN
  • Daily Business Review
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NBC News
  • National Consumer Law Center
  • The New York Times
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
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