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Double check debt collectors

April 1, 2019 GMT

Debt collection scams are one of the most frightening and persistent scam types. Scammers harass you for weeks or even months, both at home and at work, trying to get you to pay a debt you don’t even owe.

Scammers will often know personal information about you and your family members, and have been known to threaten relatives into paying up.

The scammer calls and tells you that they work for a collection agency, law firm or government agency and claims to be collecting an overdue payment. When you reply that you don’t owe money, the “debt collector” starts to make threats of suing you, having your wages garnished, arresting you or forcing you to appear in court.


Despite the threats, these “debt collectors” don’t have any legal power. In most cases, the alleged overdue loan doesn’t even exist. Don’t give in and pay money you don’t owe. If you do, the scammer will likely be back for more.

• Tips to spot this scam:

Ask for written notice of the debt. In the U.S., debt collectors are required by law to provide an official “validation notice” of the debt when requested. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and a statement of your rights. If the self-proclaimed collector won’t provide the information, hang up.

Get more information. If you do owe money and aren’t sure if the caller is real, ask for their name, company, street address, and telephone number. Do not provide any bank account, credit card, or other personally identifiable information over the phone. If the collector is legitimate, they should have details on the accounts in question and be forthcoming with all of your questions.

• Protect yourself:

Just hang up. If you don’t have any outstanding loans, hang up. Don’t press any numbers or speak to an “agent.”

Check your credit report. Check with the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). This will help you determine if you have outstanding debts or if there has been suspicious activity. Visit freecreditreport.com for your free

credit report from each company once every 12 months.

Know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when they collect debts. Read the FTC article on Debt Collection FAQ’s to help decide if the call is real or a scam. Go to their website at www.consumer. ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs.

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