It is that time of the year again when we think of all the scary monsters lurking around the corner. However, throughout the year, many people will encounter a very real and very scary monster in the form of zombie debt.
What is Zombie Debt?
The term Zombie Debt can sometimes be used to refer to many different types of debt. But basically this is a debt that should have died through age or other reasons but has resurfaced through the actions of a debt collection company. Sometimes the debt becomes a zombie debt simply by the lack of communication from the original creditor, leading people to assume the debt has died until it is brought up again, years later, by a debt collector. However, the term Zombie Debt does not refer to a solid legal definition of debt, but it is fun to use.
How to combat Zombie Debt
There are many tools available for individuals to combat Zombie Debt when it comes shambling up through the phones or mail. One of those tools is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. There are many provisions of the FDCPA that can help individuals who are being harassed by zombie debt collectors to stop the phone calls and letters. This is especially true when the debt collectors are talking about debts they know to be dead and legally uncollectable but are trying to collect on anyway.
One of the most powerful tools is the right to demand validation of any debt. Upon demand through the FDCPA the collection company must provide a debtor with information to determine if the debt is valid or not.
Additionally, under the FDCPA, if a zombie debt collector is using harassment, false or misleading representations, or other unfair practices they may be held liable for damages under the law.
Another way to combat a zombie debt collector is to know your legal rights. In some cases there may be legal blocks to the collection of a debt. The debt may have been properly discharged in a bankruptcy or the statute of limitations may have run on the debt. In order to make sure the debt is still legally valid it is important to sit down with a qualified consumer protection attorney to review your legal rights.
What if the Zombie sues you?
In some cases the zombies shambling around in the debt collection world will get aggressive enough to file suit seeking to collect an old debt that should have died away long ago. This is when combating such debt becomes a serious matter and must be approached in the right way.
First, a debtor has to understand that just because a collection agency has filed suit does not mean that the collection agency will win. There are many ways to defend against zombie debt even in the court room.
Second, the worst thing that a debtor can do when being sued is to do nothing. There are many time limits which start to run when a lawsuit is filed and it is important for someone being sued to make sure answers and appearances are made according to these rules so as to avoid a default judgment.
Third, all of the movies show that the best way to fight off zombies is with a friend. This is true with zombie debt as well. Here, the debtor’s friend needs to be a skilled and experienced consumer protection attorney that has fought off these zombies before. My firm has handled numerous cases defending debtors against debt collection agencies and has honed our zombie debt fighting skills.
If you are facing the horror of a zombie debt collector take a deep breath, they are not as scary as they seem at first. Remember, that the laws provide you tools to combat such debt. Next, contact my office for a no obligation, confidential, free case evaluation so we can put together a game plan for you to deal with the debt once and for all.