Credit counselors say they are seeing an increase in "Zombie Debt." It's debt that seemingly rises from the dead to haunt you. When collectors call you about it, you might not even remember, or even owe it.
Rebecca Gershowitz, with Clear Point Credit Counseling Solutions says the calls can be quite frightening and are happening more and more.
"A lot of collectors are trying to collect on old debts to increase revenue. So as debt is sold from collector to collector, they are kind of increasing their activity trying to get money out of you," she said.
Gershowitz says you shouldn't be alarmed if you don't remember the old debt. She says there could be good reason you don't recall owing anything.
"The first thing you want to do is make sure the debt actually belongs to you. Sometimes in the process of being sold from collector to collector, they lose track of whose debt belongs to who," Gershowitz added.
Clear Point offers these tips: Don't talk, if you make a promise to pay, it could mean more trouble. Stay organized, make you sure have proof about the old debt, and avoid the Zombies altogether. Counselors say send a Cease and Desist letter via certified mail.
"The debt still does belong to you, if you've determined that it is yours but that means, that they cannot legally pursue you in order to collect the debt," she explained.
Remember, just because you get a call about an old debt, it doesn't mean the call is legitimate. Crooks are always looking to take advantage of you. Credit counselors say don't give up any money until you are 100 certain its your debt.
"Anytime you receive a phone call, if it is something you are unaware of, ask for something in writing," Gershowitz said.
In Virginia, there is a statue of limitations of three years on credit card debt. Counselors say if you owe, you shouldn't try to wait it out, it will hurt your credit and the debt will stay on your report for 7 years. Also, the statute of limitations defense may not work.
"You have to look at your credit card agreement because your agreement may stipulate 'yes, I am a resident of Virginia but we are using the statute of limitations in the creditors state,'" Gershowitz said.
If Zombie Debt scares you, you can always get help from a credit counselor.
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