Beware of phony debt collectors

If you get a call about an unfamiliar debt, watch out. It could be a scam.

If it is a legitimate debt, the caller will treat you with respect, provide detailed information about the debt, how to check things out, and happily provide you with their name, company name, and street address. If it is a scam, the caller will often use high-pressure tactics to get you to pay on the spot, will threaten you with police or legal action, and will refuse to give details about the debt, as well as their company’s full name, street address and phone number.

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Most importantly, never give out personal information or agree to make a payment until you check things out. Sometimes, the debt is old and you may not owe it. But, if you make a payment, this could cause the debt to be new again, requiring you to pay. To check things out, ask for the debt collector’s company’s name, street address, and phone number, and ask for specific details about the debt. 

Tell the collector by phone and in writing to stop calling. If they are notified in writing, the collector is required by law to stop calling. Also check with the company who is reporting the debt to verify if the debt is owed, and if the collector is a legitimate company that they have hired or sold your debt to for collection purposes.

Keep track of the date and time that the calls came in, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. But, keep in mind, if the calls are coming from outside of the country, it may be difficult for the FTC to get these calls to stop. You may need to let all calls go to voicemail. The more often you pick up calls, the more calls you are likely to receive from multiple scammers. If you stop picking up the phone, the scammers may grow tired and stop calling. 

 

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