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So how can you avoid harassment by debt scavengers?
Start by understanding what zombie debt is and how to spot common tactics used by debt scavengers. The term "zombie debt" is used to describe debt that is very old or no longer owed.
Types of debt typically found in a debt scavenger's portfolio include: Debts where the statute of limitations has run.
A creditor or debt collector has a limited number of years during which it can sue you for an unpaid debt—a time period called the statute of limitations.
And, in some cases, debt that has been wiped from your credit record is sold to another debt collector that tries to bring it back to life and collect on it once again. Sometimes debt scavengers pursue debts that were legitimately discharged in bankruptcy.In short, it's debt that has come back from the dead to haunt you.Zombie debt is typically purchased from the original creditor (or even from another debt collection agency) for pennies on the dollar.If a collector calls you about a debt that's old or that you don't think you owe, you can protect yourself by taking certain steps, like not talking to the collector (you don't want to inadvertently give the collector useful collection information or, even worse, admit you owe a debt that isn't yours or say something that revives a debt after the statute of limitations has run) and requesting validation of the debt.
(To learn more about what you should—and should not—do when a debt collector calls, read Handling Debt Collection Calls: Do's and Don'ts.) If you need help dealing with abusive debt collectors—or if you're facing a collections lawsuit—consider talking to an attorney to find out what to do in your particular circumstances.
Both established Wall Street investors and fly-by-night debt collection companies have bought delinquent debt in bulk.