The house was cool and quiet, a nice night in alone on the couch. A slight shudder ran up your spine as the phone vibrated on your arm rest. The unknown number doesn’t register when you answer the line. You hear a strange voice on the other end of the line. It’s a bill collector and they are demanding you make a payment. Suddenly, your mind is racing, “What is this? How do you know all of this about me? I paid that bill off years ago. I don’t remember this. Why is this happening now? What am I going to do?”
What is “zombie debt”? Well, collection agencies can purchase all types of accounts for pennies on the dollar. These accounts are typically purchased in bulk and are a virtual grab bag of accounts. While most of the outstanding balances are valid, there may be some accounts that are too old to be collected upon; some accounts may have been paid in full or through settlements and some may have been cleared through a bankruptcy.
A collector’s responsibility is to get you to pay the bill and if you can validate that it was already paid, settled or resolved through bankruptcy, you are prepared for battle. If you don’t have to tools for battle don’t worry; here are some tips on how to survive this horrific trend in debt collection:
- Investigate: Did you know that you are entitled to a free credit report for each Credit Bureau once a year. It’s true. Simply go to www.annualcreditreport.com and answer a few security questions. If it’s on your credit report, it’s affecting your credit score.
- Fight Back: Don’t believe what you hear or see is right; dispute it! You have the right to question the debt you are being asked to pay back. Request a letter to validate the debt and write a formal dispute in response. Keep records of any correspondence to help validate your claim.
- Make a Plan: Don’t be afraid to answer the phone; pick it up! Familiarize yourself with The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) via www.ftc.gov to soothe those rattling chains. Gather your statements, receipts and any other correspondence and contact a financial counselor to help you in establishing a plan of action.
It may seem scary but now is the time to clear those cobwebs off your credit score and tell those collectors NEVERMORE!! Apprisen has been helping people for over 60 years. Our Financial Service Specialists are here to assist you in gaining the skills needed to slay those zombie debts and find sanctuary in your financial life.