I Have a Zombie Debt. I Paid a Debt Off That They Want to Collect On Again. – Dawne


“Dear Steve,

I was contacted recently about a debt that I had three years ago. I paid some on it according to the debt collector but I thought I had paid all of it because for the past three years I have not had any contact from them at all. I saw something about statue of limitations and was wondering if that had past, it was in Indiana that the debt occured.


Dear Dawne,

Just because you are being asked to pay it again does not mean you didn’t pay it off before. These zombie debts are resurfacing more and more these days. These are debts that a new collector is attempting to collect on because they count on the average consumer not keeping records of a previous payment.

You have a some choices:

  1. Provide proof of previous payment.
  2. Get a copy of your consolidated credit report and see how that debt is reported. It may show that it was paid previously.
  3. Dispute the debt in writing within 30 days of the first contact by this collector and ask for proof to validate the amount due. If they can’t provide proof, they can’t collect on it.
  4. Hire a lawyer to represent you with the collector and get to the bottom of this for you or to advise you about this debt under the statute of limitations. Most people are unaware that even if a debt is outside the statute of limitations or time barred, collectors can still come after you for it, just not sue you.

These zombie debts are getting to be a real problem. The best thing to do if you pay a debt off is to pay it by some method in which you get a receipt for payment. You can write a check, pay by Western Union, use a credit card or a debit card. Next, keep proof of the payment with your other important papers so if an old debt resurfaces years from now you know where to look for the proof of payment.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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