It’s easy to become a victim of zombie debt collectors

If you’re being inundated by debt collectors calling, texting, emailing and otherwise contacting you, you may not even realize that one or more of them is attempting to get payment on something called a “zombie debt.” 

Zombie debts include debts that have already been paid off or settled with a creditor. They can also be debts that have reached their statute of limitations (time-barred debts). If you’ve been the victim of identity theft or other fraud or simply an error and you’re listed as the person who purchased something you didn’t, that can also be considered zombie debt.

How do zombie debts “reanimate?”

Often, this happens when someone makes a payment on a debt that was already written off. This can happen if a collector gets ahold of the information and tries to collect on the debt. A person can feel pressured to make a payment and not take the time to determine whether they do in fact owe anything.

Not all collectors of zombie debt are trying to get money from people who don’t owe it. They may get information about a debt after a collection agency has sold its debts to another one and not realize it’s no longer owed.

How do zombie debt collectors succeed in getting money that isn’t owed?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Zombie debt collectors, also known as “debt scavengers,” will try to collect debt that people don’t have to pay. Many are good at it. Often, they’ll tell people they just need to pay a small portion and then they won’t contact them again. It’s important to know that under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), you have the right to tell collectors to stop contacting you without making a payment.

Some will go as far as threatening to take legal action. Some even imply that they’re calling from a law firm. What’s important to know is that if you no longer owe a debt, these are false threats.

This is why it’s crucial to have a full and accurate picture of your debts. This can help you protect yourself from falling prey to zombie debt collectors. If you’ve already been the victim of these tactics, it’s wise to learn what options for recourse you have.

FindLaw Network