"Very few people document these abuses, file in small claims court and complain to the FTC and the CFPB," says Sullivan. "But I recommend you do."
Showing up in court with a tape of a debt collector lying or a notice meant to look like a government document will net you $1,000 each. "It really annoys them." Sullivan also notes "You have to show up."
Know the Statute of Limitations
Especially when it comes to your own debt, know the statute of limitations.
"You need to be aware of what these are in your state," says Sullivan. In fact, if someone tries to collect debt older than the statute of limitations, the worst thing you can do is even acknowledge that it’s yours -- something that might reactivate the debt.
It's not uncommon for companies to attempt to collect debt past the statute of limitations. This is known as "zombie debt." The practice is not illegal in and of itself. In fact, you can still be sued for debt that's past the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations only provides you with an affirmative defense against judgment. But again, the most important thing is to not to reaffirm the debt.
"If you do that, either verbally or in writing, you're going to start the statute of limitations all over again," says Sullivan.