Zombie debts, also known as phantom debts, are debts that are very old (usually more than three years) that "haunt" a consumer over the years. It can also refer to an old debt that is no longer owed. They may be from a debt years ago, or inherited from a family member after a death in the family.
How Are Zombie Debts Affected by the FDCPA?
Every state has a statute of limitations on how long a debt can be pursued after the original debt was owed. It's very uncommon for debt collectors to have a valid claim on a debt that is more than three years old. If you're being pursued regarding a debt that's very old, you may have an FDCPA claim. The FDCPA stops third-party debt collectors to pursue debts past the statute of limitations.
Another common FDCPA violation regarding zombie debts is adding additional payments or interest to a zombie debt. It is illegal for a debt collector to charge more than the original debt on behalf of an original creditor. Some debt collectors threaten to report a debt to credit bureaus or sue you if you do not pay the debt--you should seek legal aid if you've received threats regarding a debt.
If you've found that you're being charged thousands in additional fees from an old debt, a third-party debt collector may be violating the FDCPA.
Speak With an FDCPA Attorney
It is illegal for a third-party debt collector to harass you regarding a debt you've already paid or a debt that is so old it's past your state's statute of limitations. If either situation occurs, you should speak with an FDCPA attorney immediately. A creditor harassment attorney can help the harassment stop. Once you've hired an attorney, all communication between you and a third-party collector you ceases.