If you’re dealing with overwhelming debt, it can feel like you owe everyone from the place you went for pizza during college to the gym you left last year because you could no longer afford that luxury. Collectors may be contacting you via phone, text and email every day.
It’s easy to lose track of whom you actually owe money to. That’s when a zombie debt can come back to haunt you and create even more problems. Just what are zombie debts, and why do you need to be sure you don’t make a payment that could bring them back to life?
There are numerous types of zombie debt
Typically, a zombie debt is not one you still owe or that is still on your credit report. It can be a debt that is too old for collectors to require you to pay because it’s past the statute of limitations. It could be one you already paid off or that was discharged in bankruptcy, but somehow it stayed on the books with the creditor or their collectors.
Maybe the debt never belonged to you. It may have been racked up by someone who stole your identity, and you didn’t even realize it.
Why you shouldn’t make a payment without learning more
This is why it’s important to do some research and make sure you still have to make payments toward any debt that a collector notifies you about. If you make a payment on a debt that’s already been written off or has expired– even a very small one – it could start the clock again on a debt.
If you’re contacted about a debt you don’t recognize and have no record of, you have the right to request a debt validation letter that provides details on the debt. Don’t just agree to pay a few dollars to make the collector go away. This won’t be the end of it.
If you’re being hounded by creditors (regarding real or zombie debts), or if you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s wise to get experienced legal guidance. This can help you determine the best way for you to move forward.