Ghost debt or zombie debt is debt that you thought was dead a long time ago and then, when you least expect it, comes back to haunt you. Many times, it is something that you have completely forgotten about. Just because you don’t hear about a debt for several years or the debt was “written off” by a creditor, it does not mean that the debt is no longer owed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The debt is still out there lingering… somewhere.
The real issue is whether a creditor or debt collector can collect the ghost or zombie debt legally? Believe it or not, debts can be owed for a very long time.
To keep track of your debts and your sanity, I want you to keep a file folder on all debts that you owe. Of course, you can do this on your computer in an electronic file format as well. If you pay your bills electronically each month, you will have a conveniently created record of when the debt was due, how much was owed, and the due date. After payment is made, you will know how much was paid, when it was paid, and when the payment was received, too.
In both of the aforementioned scenarios, you will be glad you kept careful records because, when it comes to your credit report, the creditors often get the tradelines wrong. They will try to keep the debt on your credit report as long as possible, so it hurts you.
A trade line on your credit report contains information reported to the credit reporting bureaus by either the original creditor to whom you owe money or if, a loan goes into default, the debt collector. If an organization reports to the credit reporting agencies, they are under a duty (under the Fair Credit Reporting Act) to accurately report the information. Many times, though, they do not.
On the other hand, if you fall behind on a bill, it’s very important to know the last day you made a payment, as the statute of limitations in Florida begins to run when default occurs. The statute of limitations will determine the timeframe that a debt can be collected using the court system. Once outside the statute of limitations, a creditor who tries to use the court system to collect a debt may be opening themselves up to a consumer law violation. But very few people know that a creditor can still attempt to collect a debt beyond the statute of limitations as long as they are not utilizing or threatening to utilize the court system to do so.
Likewise, you want to keep track of any changes in ownership. You may receive a letter from your mortgage company telling you that they are transferring the servicing rights to another organization. That is not a letter that you want to throw away. You want to save this letter and make a record of it so that you know you are sending your mortgage payments to the proper entity each month.
If you think that a debt is way too old, that you have settled the debt with another debt collector, or that you have been released from the debt in writing, and the creditor or debt collector is mistakenly coming after you, please feel free to give the bankruptcy lawyers of Dellutri Law Group a call and request a complimentary strategy session. A portion of our practice involves suing debt collectors and others who violate consumer protection laws in the State of Florida. Many times, we can take these cases on a contingency fee, which allows you to hire me – Attorney Carmen Dellutri – and my team with no money down. If we are successful, the creditors and/or debt collectors must pay you damages and pay our attorney's fees and costs. We consider this a win-win-win scenario. Justice is served, we are paid for our hard work, and you are compensated for your damages!