Unfortunately, as times get tough, the predators, ghouls, zombies and phantoms get super-charged. This is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for hiring a lawyer. The following information simply affords you some places to seek help in dealing with predators.
The Fair Debt Collection Laws 2006:
The Fair Trade Commission regulates collection agency activity. State Attorney General’s and the Federal Trade Commission have authority to act against unscrupulous collection agency activity. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm
What is a Zombie Debt:
A Zombie debt is a debt you may or may not have had at some time in your life. It surfaces after years and decades because it cannot be legally collected because the statute of limitations has run or you paid it and some low-down Zombie collection agency bought it for a penny on the dollar. What these Zombie debt collectors count on is intimidating people into paying for a fictitious debt by threatening them with a host of scare tactics.
A really interesting article on the subject is Liz Pullman Weston’s blog called, ‘Zombie’ Debt is Hard to Kill’. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ManageDebt/ZombieDebtCollectorsDigUpYourOldMistakes.aspx
What is a Phantom Debt:
A Phantom Debt is a debt you never had in the first place or it an embellished debt. You may have paid the debt or entered into a settlement and the creditor has either sold the debt or didn’t credit your account. If it is a recent debt, you can verify it was paid. However, if it is an old debt, it becomes a phantom/zombie debt. A good piece of legal advice comes from Jeff Suher, an attorney in collection law. Check out Jeff Suher’s advice to Pennsylvania residents. http://www.jeffcanhelp.com/blog/debt-collectors-who-try-to-collect-phantom-debts.cfm
Depending on your state the statute of limitations for collecting old debts and collection law may be different. One thing for sure, the same rights you have under the above, Fair Debt Collection Practices laws apply throughout the USA. Some states are more vigilant than others in advocating for consumers. States, however must afford conumers the same rights the federal act requires.
Consumers can get damages from bad actors in the collection agency business. You may need to consult an attorney. Check your local legal clinic or Google consumer protection lawyer with your state in the search. Contact your state consumer protection office in the Attorney General’s office and find out what they can do or are willing to do on your behalf.
File A Complaint:
The reason, these Phantom/Zombie collection agencies stay in business is due to lack of knowledge by consumers. The Federal Trade Commission has an on-line complaint form or you can call them with your complaint. The complaint can be filed at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ . You can also get phone assistance at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Keep those Comments Coming and Thanks.