MILWAUKEE — If you get a call about a debt that you or a loved one owes, watch out.
If you are not careful, you could get taken by a debt collection scam.
Here is how these scams are carried out:
- You get a call or a strange letter in the mail stating that you or a loved one owes a debt.
- The scammer may state it is related to a debt that you know was settled many years ago, or they may reference a student loan, or say that you owe for a debt of deceased loved one.
- The caller may be aggressive, threatens arrest or serious legal action, and refuses to provide detailed information about the debt in writing.
- And, they often want you to pay by phone, asking for bank account information or telling you to purchase a prepaid debit card like an I-Tunes or e-Bay gift card and then give them numbers off of these cards.
Legitimate debt collectors will treat you with respect, will not ask you to pay with a prepaid gift card, and are willing to provide detailed information about the debt in writing.
If you are not sure if the company or debt is legitimate, do not pay until you check things out with the original company who reported the debt or with consumer sources like the Better Business Bureau.
You might also get a heads up about these phony debt collectors by doing an online search.
If the debt collector is being aggressive, will not stop calling, and will not provide information about the debt, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , or the Federal Trade Commission.
These agencies will respond to your complaint, let you know your rights, and will take legal action against unscrupulous debt collectors.
The Federal Trade Commission also has some great information about how to deal with a debt collection issue.