Halloween may be done and dusted for the year, but there’s still a creeping presence that looms, groaning, hungry for brains… I mean, interest… over many Canadian consumers. You can run, but you can’t hide… from zombie debt.
If you’ve had debt in the past you couldn’t pay, some of those accounts may have been written off as “uncollectable.” In other words, the company may have stopped trying to collect because they were unable to get you to pay or to reach you at all.
However, in recent years, a new breed of debt collector has started to buy these old debts and is attempting to collect on them all over again. These “zombie debt” collectors are a nuisance at best and a serious financial hurdle at worst. And zombie debt isn’t just out to haunt long-term debtors: even those of us who pay all our monthly bills on time aren’t necessarily safe from zombies. In fact, some of these old debt claims are pursued against people who have no connection with the original debt! This is largely due to miscommunications or missing information translated between the original debt issuer, and the company who has bought up lists of names of individuals that it chooses to pursue for repayment.
Common sources of zombie debt include:
- Debts you do owe but forgot about.
- Debts you already settled with a creditor.
- Fraudulent charges from identity theft.
- Debts wiped out in bankruptcy.
- Debts beyond the statute of limitations for when you can be sued for payment.
Traditional debt-clearing weaponry doesn’t work against zombie debt, either. The best way to put a stop to zombie debt collections is to send a letter to the collection agency indicating that they must cease and desist. Keep records of the payments you make on all your debt, so you can prove that the “zombie” buyer has no valid claim against you. If collectors will not cease and desist, you can consult a legal professional to take action against them.
There are virtually no scenarios in which you will benefit by paying a debt that is beyond the statute of limitations. The collection agency profits by the debtors they can convince to pay, even if those debtors aren’t legally required to pay – usually through continuous pressure tactics and by instilling fear and guilt in their targets. Don’t be intimidated by their shambling, mindless tactics, and you won’t get bitten by the zombie debt bug.