Have you ever received a letter or a phone call demanding that you pay a debt that you are not sure you owe? Did you file bankruptcy and are now being harassed or sued for a debt you thought was discharged? It usually happens that some attorney or collection company demanding payment of some debt has served you with a lawsuit? After flipping through all the paperwork you don’t believe that the debt is even your debt, and if anything, it must have been a debt that is at least 7 years old from before you filed bankruptcy. Welcome to the multibillion-dollar industry known as “zombie debts.” Zombie debts are debts that are so old that legally creditors and collection agencies cannot collect on them. Literally, these debts have come back alive!
So you are wondering, how did this collection agency even get a hold of this debt?
The answer is that collection of zombie debts is becoming an increasingly profitable business venture for collection agencies in California, where large banks, mortgage companies, and credit card companies sell charged-off debts to companies that buy non-collectible debts for pennies on the dollar. Then these zombie debt collectors attempt to collect on the debt. They usually have just information, such as a name and account number to hunt you down. Then they try to figure out which potential individuals are likely to pay. Once they figure you are likely to pay they file a lawsuit against you, usually without any documentation that a debt even existed. Zombie debt collectors file these lawsuits despite the fact that the debt is no longer legally collectible because the statute of limitations has passed from bringing such a claim.
Most people ignore the lawsuit because they have no idea what the debt is, or who the company is. Unfortunately, that is the WRONG answer. By ignoring the debt, this allows the zombie collector to win. The only way for these zombie debt collectors to collect on these lawsuits in California is to rely on obtaining a default judgment. If you ignore the lawsuit, the zombie debt collector will win by default. Once they have a default judgment, they may collect on it by garnishing your wages or seizing your property. Zombie debt buyers rely on your failure to respond. Instead of just ignoring the lawsuit, you should file an answer and fight the collector in court so that the zombie debt collector will lose. The zombie debt collection cases have a complete defense based on the statute of limitations, and therefore should be fought, not ignored. Make the zombie debt collectors prove that you owe the debt, or that there is even a debt that is collectible, because it is likely that they cannot.
If you believe that you are a victim of a zombie debt collector, follow the steps below:
1. Do not acknowledge the debt
2. Do not fall into any traps of agreeing to pay the debt
3. Ask for proof, in writing, that you owe the debt
4. Check the Statute of Limitations
5. Write the collector a letter explaining that you are not responsible for the debt, you do NOT acknowledge the debt, and you demand that they stop harassing you or you will take legal action.
6. Watch your credit report closely
7. Contact our office immediately!
Just because you were served with a lawsuit does NOT mean that you owe the debt. Contact the Manning Law Office today! You may be entitled to monetary damages and an order that the creditor pay your attorney fees.