Photo of Katie Bossler/GreenPath Financial Wellness ExpertZombie Debt Lives on Well After Halloween
By Katie Bossler/GreenPath Financial Wellness Expert

1 November 2016

While there may have been plenty of witches and ghouls around this Halloween, one thing that will live beyond the spooky holiday season is zombie debt. Yes, zombie debt. It’s not owing money to a cast member of “The Walking Dead.” It is a real thing and we want you to know the signs, so you will be prepared!

As the name suggests, zombie debt is debt that you thought was dead, but has come back to life.

It could be a debt you already paid off, a debt that has passed the collectable statute of limitations, or is a debt that is simply not yours that a debt collector is targeting you to pay.

In the spirit of the season, I've put together five things you should do to avoid getting bit by zombie debt:

  1. Review your records.  Is this a debt that you agree you owe?  Did you already pay it off?  Having good records is key.
  2. Pull your credit report to see if it is being reported to the credit bureau.  You can do so for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  3. Ask the debt collector to send proof in writing of the debt they are claiming you owe.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sample letters you can send. Go to www.consumerfinance.gov and search “debt collector letter”.
  4. Know your rights! Don’t let the debt collector bully you.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you against abusive collection tactics. Go to the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov to learn more.
  5. If it is a debt that you owe, but believe it may be past the statute of limitations, you may reach out to an attorney or local legal aid agency for further assistance.

If you have been contacted by a debt collector for payment on a zombie debt, you can file a complaint with your State Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Stay alert, know your rights and steer clear of that zombie debt!