Getting your debt under control can be difficult, but once you do, you may think you no longer have anything to worry about. However, sometimes a collection agency may contact you about an old debt.

Here is what you need to know about these zombie debts.

What is zombie debt?

Zombie debt is a past-due balance, typically from more than three years ago, that no longer appears on a credit report. Such debts often fall outside of the statute of limitations and are usually uncollectable. However, collection agencies may still try to collect these amounts, and they often use harassing tactics to accomplish this.

Zombie debt may also refer to bills that you have already paid off or that you discharged in bankruptcy. Occasionally, creditors may even contact about paying on fraudulent charges.

What should you do when contacted about zombie debt?

If a collection agency attempts to revive an old balance, you should verify the debt is actually yours and request a verification letter. You will then want to check if the past-due amount is still within the statute of limitations. If outside the statute of limitations, you do not need to make payments on it. In fact, doing so could restart the statute of limitations and force you to repay the entire balance.

Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, you can write a letter to challenge the amount and request that the agency no longer contacts you. However, if the debt is valid, you can pursue many different relief options to help you manage the payment.