NH Law About... Zombie Debt

Introduction to... Zombie Debt

Posted January 8, 2016.

The “Read About …” section of this guide refers to resources about the law and will provide context and key terms. “Read the Law …” links to the law and should be used as a starting point for further research.

"Zombie debt" may also be called time-barred debt or out-of-statute debt and generally refers to debts so old they are past the statute of limitations. The term also includes debts that may have already been paid, debts that may have been discharged in bankruptcy, debts that no longer appear in credit reports, or even debts you never owed in the first place. The common factor is that these debts keep on reappearing for collection as they are sold and resold to debt collectors. As debts age, documentation about the status of the debt, or the name and address of the debtor may disappear or no longer be accurate.  

Researching this is not as simple as just looking up New Hampshire's statutes of limitations. For one thing, it may not be a New Hampshire issue at all because the original credit agreement or contract may have specified a different state's statute of limitations. Or, the applicable statute of limitations may be the state where you lived when you contracted the debt or the state where you are being sued now. Or, the statute of limitations may depend on the type of debt involved. You'd also need to figure out when the countdown began on the statute of limitations and federal law may also apply. In other words, this is complicated. 

Resources on this issue include -

New Hampshire Legal Aid's Debt Collection - Over Your Head In Debt? gives guidance on dealing with debt collectors and what to do if you're sued. The book Collection Law From Start to Finish is written for New Hampshire lawyers who are collecting debts but is also very useful for non-lawyers because it goes into detail about the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the penalties for debt collectors who don't follow the rules, and talks about New Hampshire debt collection law. The report from the National Consumer Law Center, Zombie Debt: What the CFPB Should Do About Attempts to Collect Old Debt (January 2015) gives background information on the problem and explains statutes of limitations. If you really want to dive in deep, two books from the National Consumer Law Center, Fair Debt Collection and Collection Actions: Defending Consumers and Their Assets, go into detail on debt buying, mistakes made by debt collectors, defenses and counterclaims to collection actions, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  

For legal advice, call Lawline or the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association. For legal aid, try the Legal Advice and Referral Center. Check the links below for these and other resources.

 


Read about... Zombie Debt

WEBSITES

New Hampshire Legal Aid. Debt Collection - Over Your Head In Debt?  GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

New Hampshire. Dept. of Justice. Consumer Sourcebook. Credit: Debt Collection  GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

National Consumer Law Center: Zombie Debt: What the CFPB Should Do About Attempts to Collect Old Debt (January 2015)   GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

Federal Trade Commission. The Structure and Practices of the Debt Buying Industry (January 2013)  GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016


PRINT

Fair debt collection / Robert J. Hobbs. Boston, MA : National Consumer Law Center, [2014]  GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

Collection actions : defending consumers and their assets / Jonathan Sheldon. Boston, Massachusetts. : National Consumer Law Center, [2014]  GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

Collection law from start to finish. Eau Claire, WI : NBI National Business Institute, c2013.   GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

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Read the law about... Zombie Debt

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATUTES

RSA 358-C. Unfair, Deceptive or Unreasonable Collection Practices  GO>

Link verified on: January 8, 2016

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>
 

FEDERAL STATUTES

15 U.S.C. 1692-1692p. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act  GO>

Link verified on: October 3, 2016


FOR MORE HELP ...

LawLine

Link verified on: May 23, 2017

Volunteer attorneys are available to answer legal questions through LawLine, a free service of the NH Bar Association. LawLine is held on the SECOND Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. ~ 8:00 p.m. To reach LawLine, call (toll free) 800-868-1212.   GO>

Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Link verified on: June 26, 2017

Contact the Lawyer Referral Service at (603) 229-0002, or submit an online referral request. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and 9:00AM to 3:00 PM on Fridays.   GO>

Legal Advice & Referral Center (LARC)

Link verified on: April 7, 2017

LARC provides legal information, referrals, and pro se assistance for eligible low-income people in New Hampshire   GO>

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: June 26, 2017

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>


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