Many Americans struggle to pay their bills and are forced to endure debt collector harassment on legitimate debt that by law are considered legitimate. However, what can be even worse, is that some creditors seek to enforce “Zombie Debt”, a term describing old debt that some creditors have refused to let die. CBS Austin reports on new protections Texans can count on in the fight against Zombie Debt and creditor harassment.
Every State has a statute of limitations for debt collection. This means after a set number of years have passed a debt may be considered uneforceable. The legal loophole has been that if you make a payment on an old debt that is past the statute of limitations, that debt can rise from the grave allowing creditors to reopen collection efforts on unsuspecting debtors. Your payment restarts the statute of limitations.
It was reported that debt collectors have been tricking people into creating Zombie Debt. Knowing that a single payment would restart the statute of limitations, creditors have used a variety of tactics to entice unsuspecting debtors into making payments. Some creditors entice unsuspecting consumers with promises of positive credit reportings on the payment on old debt. As soon as the consumer make a payment, an otherwise dead debt, comes back to life…hence the term “Zombie Debt.”
The report also notes the lengths that debt collectors will go to in order to convince people to make just one payment, some of which have been deemed illegal. The report notes instances of people being threatened with jail time for failing to pay a debt. Other harassing debt collection practices have included phone calls before 8 am or after 9 pm and calls to friends, family, and co-workers to humiliate the debtor into making a payment.
CBS Austin reports that this mechanism, which allows creditors to bring an old debt back to life, is now being stopped. Starting on September 1st, 2020 House Bill 996 will make it impossible for a debt collector to use a Zombie Debt to start collections against Texans. According to the report, Texas will now have a hard and fast four-year statute of limitations for a debt collector to pursue legal action. If they fail to file a lawsuit within this time period, the debt will be dismissed, barring creditors from taking any further collection efforts.
Debt collectors will go to extreme lengths in their attempts to enforce debts. It is important that consumers understand that although many tactics are legitimate, this does not preclude creditors from complying with provisions in the law that limit their activities. In the case of Zombie Debt, the Texas law is a small, but important step on curtailing creditors actions. Hopefully, further legislation will be passed across the country, to protect debtors from further creditor harassment. Consumer protection is the only way to ensure that debtors are properly shielded from certain creditors who will try almost anything to force a payment out of unsuspecting citizens.
If you have heen harassed by a debt collector call us at AZ Credit Lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation. You can reach us at (480) 771-6001 or [email protected]. For more information, visit us at azcreditlawyers.com.
Attorney Gary Nitzkin
Licensed in Michigan only