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  • Keith Hagan, Attorney

Zombie Debts - Scary Old Debts that Debt Collectors Want to Trick You Into Paying.

Zombie Debt!

Debt Collectors who file lawsuits on an old, time-barred debt, or who trick you into paying on one, violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. They may have to pay you up to $1,000 for this violation.

Zombie Debt is a real term used to describe a debt that has come back from the grave to haunt you. They are debts that are over 6 years old and can no longer be sued upon in Indiana. They are court judgments that are over 20 years old and which can no longer be collected upon in Indiana. They may even be debts that were discharged in bankruptcy and which you no longer owe. Or debts that belong to someone else who has a similar name to yours!

So why the scary name? If a debt collector can't take you to court over these Zombie debts, why should you worry? Because a lot of debt collectors try to get you to pay on them anyway. Many debt collectors even sue people over Zombie Debts in the hope they won't be caught.This is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and they may be forced to pay you up to $1,000 for suing on a Zombie debt.

If a debt collector has sued you, check the date you last made a payment on the account. If that payments was made over six years before they filed the lawsuit, the debt is likely a Zombie and can be dismissed from court. An attorney from Hagan Law Office can help you with this and may also be able to file an FDCPA claim against them at no charge, getting you up to $1,000 for your troubles.

But more often than filing a lawsuit, Zombie Debt Collectors like to try and trick you into paying the debt and restarting the timeline so it is brand new for collection. How do they do this?

The "Statute of Limitations" is the amount of time a debt collector has to sue you for a debt. In Indiana, debt collectors must file a lawsuit within 6 years of the last time you made a payment. If they don't, the Statute of Limitations ends and they cannot legally try to collect on a debt in court.

But there's a catch: If you make a payment on a debt that is older than 6 years, that payment restarts the statute of limitations. As an example, imagine you last made a payment on a debt 9 years ago, but a debt collector tricks you into making a new payment today. The new payment has now restarted the Statute of Limitations and won't end until 6 years from today. But why would anyone in their right mind make a payment on an old deb they don't have to pay?

Because debt collectors are very persuasive. They may tell you that they'll stop calling you if you will only make a small payment today, which is a violation of the FDCPA. They may tell you they are going to report the debt on your credit report, again. This is also a violation of the FDCPA. They may threaten to sue you in court - another violation of the FDCPA. They may even harass you with phone calls, use threatening language, and tell you they are attorneys (when they are't). All of which are more violations of the FDCPA!

So protect yourself! If you think a debt collector may be chasing you over a Zombie Debt, or if they have even filed a lawsuit against you over one, contact us today. We love nothing more than stopping debt collectors - unless it's getting you damages for their violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act!

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