Technically, creditors have the right to call you, send you letters or even take you to court in an effort to collect on the debts that you owe. However, after a certain point, it will become much harder for a business to convince an individual to pay a debt.
Frequently, companies with bad debt on the books will try to correct the issue by selling their debts to another business. There are businesses that buy bundled debts for pennies on the dollar with the intent of pursuing collection activity. Unfortunately, this practice has led to new challenges for consumers, as companies may continue rebundling and reselling debts even after someone pays what they owe.
Zombie debt is the term that describes debts that are either incredibly old or already paid. What rights do you have when dealing with collection efforts related to zombie debts?
You have the right to validate the debt
If it has been numerous years since you allegedly incurred a financial obligation, you may not recall all of the details involved. Debt collectors pursuing payments on very old debts often rely on people not knowing their rights or not truly knowing if the debt is valid or not.
As with any other debt that leads to collection activity, you should have access to detailed information regarding the origins of the debt. You then typically have at least 30 days to take action before the collection company can report that debt to the credit bureaus.
You can challenge invalid records
If you determine that the collection activity you face relates to a debt that you already paid, you should be able to submit proof of payment and end the collection activity. Additionally, you may be able to challenge any collection account information reported to the credit bureaus if you have already paid. If the party pursuing collections on the outdated and invalid debt persists, then you may need to consider going to court.
Illegal debt collection can lead to business liability
When a company violates the rights of consumers, it opens itself up not just to criticism but also potential financial consequences. Those who can show that they were the victims of unfair and predatory debt collection practices, such as intentionally trying to collect on a debt that the company knows is invalid, might result not only in a cessation of that aggressive collection activity but also in financial compensation for you because of this violation of your rights.
Many consumers don’t understand the difference between standard debt collection and zombie debts. They may make mistakes such as paying a debt that they have paid before simply to keep a blemish off of their credit report. The companies engaging in these practices largely profit from those who pay without validating the debts or challenging their practices.
Fighting back against unfair debt collection practices can force a company to change its practices or to at least repay you for the hardship they have caused.