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How to Tell If a Debt Collector is a Scam

Posted by Adam Alexander | Apr 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

You look down at your phone and it's another unidentified caller.  The stress and frustration of dealing with debt is real.  However, if you are receiving collection calls from an aggressive debt collector, it just may be a scam.

Is It Your Debt?

If you have no idea what debt the collector is talking about, this may be a clue that it's a scam. Ask the caller to verify the debt by sending you a letter showing the original debtor, date of original contract, account number and payments made by you. If the debt collector has no such information, or makes excuses or threats to avoid providing information, it is probably a scam artist.  Also, request the address, phone number and license number of the debt collection company.  The less information they provide you, the more likely it's a scam. 

Research the Phone Number

Jot down the phone number(s) that the debt collector is calling from, (assuming it is not masked). Then, type it in a Google search. Legitimate debt collectors usually have phone numbers connected to their website. In other words, the Google search should result in the debt collector's web site or a series of results relating to that debt collector. If the debt collector's website pops up as the result from your Google search, it is probably legit. If you get phone company results from your search such as “whocallsme.com” or “800notes.com” it likely is a scam.

How aggressive are the Threats? 

If a debt collector threatens you with arrest or says that a process server is on the way to your home to serve you with a lawsuit, it's probably a scam. Legitimate debt collectors can be rude and unprofessional for sure. But making threats of arrest or using vulgarity is a red flag for a fly-by-night, fake collector.  Real debt collectors run the risk of losing their license or getting sued if they go over the top like this on a regular basis. Usually, it's only fake companies that utilize the most outrageous tactics.  Moreover, if the debt collector asks you for personal financial information, like banking information, social security number or account numbers, do not oblige. Do not provide anyone with your personal financial information without certain identification of their identity and legitimacy. 

Report the Violation

If you suspect a scam, submit a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (“CFPB”), call calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372), or get in touch with your state Attorney General's office.  

Don't Pay

Stop speaking with the perpetrator if you suspect a scam. And don't pay them!  Don't set up payments or discuss settlement until you are convinced they are the real deal.   

Unfortunately, there is a fringe element of unscrupulous losers who prey on unsuspecting consumers. Be careful and make sure you confirm that the allege debt is a real debt. If you have any doubts whatsoever, heed the advice of this article. If you are seeking an attorney to review your legal issue, you can find an experienced consumer lawyer in your area at www.naca.net.

About the Author

Adam Alexander

I was born to solve problems and with an innate ability to separate right from wrong. I turned these virtues into a career focused on fighting corporate overreach and deception and representing consumers who are wronged.  Since 1996 I have helped thousands of Michigan residents fight back and pro...

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