Hopefully, you are not one of the thousands of Americans who have been victimized by scam artists posing at debt collectors. These criminals have been known to hound completely innocent people into giving away hundreds, or even thousands, of their hard-earned dollars. With just a few tips, though, you can spot a debt collection scam and protect yourself in the future.
A debt collection scam often occurs when a company, or an individual claiming to represent a company, contacts a person in order to collect on a debt that doesn’t exist. Through scare tactics, aggressive behavior, and confusion, victims are coerced into giving out money.
How would a criminal even find out about your information? Unfortunately, learning a person’s email, phone number, and even bank account or social security number may not be as difficult as you may think. That’s why, even if presented with this information by someone, you should not be willing to trust them.
Here are a few ways to find out if you are being contacted by an authentic debt collector or someone trying to rip you off:
The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act: This is a law meant to protect consumers from debt collection scam artists and legitimate debt collectors using illegal methods to collect on debts. It is because of this law that you will be able to quickly determine of a debt collector is real or not.
If you receive a phone call from someone attempting to collect on a debt:
- Require complete identification: Who they are, their company, their phone number and address. Try and contact them there and ask if the person you talked to works for them. Some scams may involve imposters posing as representatives of real companies. Others may say they work for a real-sounding company that doesn’t actually exist. If anyone refuses to give you this information, you can be sure they are not a real, law-abiding debt collector.
- Require your debts in writing: This is required by the FDCPA. If anyone refuses, they are not a real debt collector.
- Check the business on consumer advocacy sites: Most business can be found on the Better Business Bureau website. Try searching for them to find if there are any alerts currently attached to that business.