Zombies May Be Entertaining, But Zombie Debt Is Something Altogether Different.
Just because you may have at one point been legally & financially obligated to pay on a debt, once it has aged to a certain point that legal status changes. In the state of Florida there are definitive ages a debt can reach before it “dies” depending on the kind of debt.
For signature, contractual debt, like cars & personal loans, the statute is five years. For revolving debt, the statute is four years. Sometimes it is argued that if you signed an application that qualifies a credit card (revolving debt) to then be classified as a signature contractual debt. This technique is to get the extra year, but if you are savvy enough, you would know not to let this go unattested. Oral agreements have a shelf life of four years. Lastly for Promissory notes, like contracts the statutes are five years. There are federal statutes of limitations on interstate cell phone charges of just two years.
Often times a debt collector will still try to revive the debt and collect from you, knowing these debts are dead- thus the name “zombie debts”. Knowing your rights under Florida law is all the boomstick you will need in these cases. As a matter of fact, if a debt collector fails to mention to you that the account is beyond statutes, they may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Often these violations carry with it punitive damages for which you may be able collect.
One thing to pay attention to is the state the account is registered. Sometimes a debt is from a bank chartered in another state. This could affect the statute of limitations.
Lastly- and this is crucial, if you are being contacted by a debt collector and are uncertain as to the age of the debt, you want to be careful what you say and do. Sometimes acknowledging the debt, and definitely paying the debt, can start the clock for statutes over again. So no “good faith” payments until you verify the date of your last payment that led to the charge off- that is when the clock started.
Make the Choice. Make the Change. Delta.