Are you being haunted by phantom debt? Often, illegitimate debt collectors prey on the fact that people don’t remember all the financial transactions they’ve made over a lifetime. These debt collectors call people and, using harsh threats and lies, try to convince them to pay debts they don't actually owe.

The Ugly Truth

zombie debt It can be frightening to be on these scammers’ radar. Debt collectors who practice these schemes may “misrepresent” information, such as an amount you owe, make false claims of debt, or even try and collect on debt deceased relatives owed. Sometimes, scammers even resurrect zombie debt that's fallen off your credit report that you have no obligation to pay. These practices are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Unfortunately, these scams have become quite common. In fact, schemes of this sort even ranked among the Better Business Bureau's top 10 reported crimes for 2014 and 2015. In August of this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a case where one group of scammers posed as lawyers who threatened arrest and legal action if people didn’t agree to pay. They even had some callers' personal information and used it to convince people their calls were legitimate.

Dispelling the Myth

As a consumer, knowing your rights goes a long way toward protecting yourself. The first thing to do is NOT acknowledge any debt and DO NOT pay or agree to pay any amount. You should check your credit reports to verify the legitimacy of any debts.

You should also request a debt validation. According to the FTC, upon request, debt collectors are required by law to send you written proof within five days of contacting you. This proof must state how much you owe, to whom, and what to do if you don’t think you owe. A collector’s unwillingness to do this may mean you're dealing with phantom debt.

A legitimate debt collector calls during business hours, doesn’t use threats, and will be able to verify the debt they're trying to collect. They'll also be able to provide you with company names and information, such as addresses and phone numbers. If you sense anything suspicious from a debt collection call, report it to the FTC right away.

Help, Not Horrors

If you’ve been the victim of phantom debt scams, or any scheme that's left your credit in a lurch, fear not. There are good spirits around to help those scarred by credit horrors. At Auto Credit Express, we work with a nationwide network of special finance dealers who have lending resources available to help.

So, if you have bad credit and need a car, take the first step toward calming your financing fears by letting us connect you with a local dealer. It’s free, and there's never any obligation. Fill out our auto loan request form to get started today.