FARMINGTON HILLS, MI – While there will be plenty of witches and ghouls around this Halloween, one thing you will want to steer clear of 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 GreenPath Financial Wellness, a nationwide, non-profit credit counseling and education group, wants 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,” said Katie Bossler, GreenPath financial wellness expert.
“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,” she continued.
In the spirit of the season, Bossler put together five things you should know, to avoid getting bit by zombie debt:
- Review your records. Is this a debt that you agree you owe? Did you already pay it off? Having good records is key.
- Pull your credit reportto see if it is being reported to the credit bureau. You can do so for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Ask the debt collector to send proof in writing of the debtthey 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”.
- 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.govto learn more.
- 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 agencyfor further assistance.
Bossler says 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.
Don’t get bit by zombie debt! By taking a few steps, this Halloween can be filled with treats and no tricks!
GreenPath provides in-person credit counseling, financial education and debt management services in more than 60 locations in 17 states. The company also offers licensed services by phone and Internet throughout the United States. For more information about GreenPath, visit www.greenpath.org or call (866) 648-8122.