The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a warning about fake debt collectors. These are predators who call people and pretend to be in charge of collecting consumer debts. Trouble is: the so-called collectors are actually criminals.
Getting called by a debt collector can be a nerve-wracking experience. Scam artists take advantage of this fact and use it as an opportunity to steal from well-intentioned victims. These criminals demand payment on behalf of well-known corporations, but their intent is to pocket the money themselves.
Common Phony Debt Collecting Scenarios
A phony debt collector will call you directly. They will try to intimidate you into making a payment for a debt you don’t actually owe. Some of their most common scenarios include:
• Asking for money to cover a loan you never received
• Asking for more money than you borrowed
• Asking for money to cover actual loans, but without authorization from the creditor
• Asking for money on a fictitious loan
Verify The Debt
If you get a call from a collector and aren’t sure it’s legitimate, start by verifying the debt. Ask questions. Request the caller’s first and last name, along with the name of the company they work for. Ask for the mailing address and phone number of the collection agency.
A fake debt collector may refuse to offer any information. This is a huge red flag. If the caller won’t answer your questions, follow up. Call the company you actually owe money to, and ask if the person who contacted you is authorized to collect on their behalf.
Stop Talking To The Caller
If you believe the debt collector is a fraudster, or even if you’re not sure, end the call. Tell the person you need to confirm what they told you before making a payment, or simply hang up. While you’re still on the phone, don’t share any personal information. You can listen politely without offering details about yourself – especially sensitive information like your credit card number.
You can also inform the caller that you plan to send a letter asking their collection agency to stop calling you. Real collection agencies must comply with this type of written request. If you’re talking to a scammer, they’ll probably tell you that a letter won’t do any good. Don’t believe them.
See Who Owns The Number
Once you get off the phone, find out who owns the number that called. You can do this by running a Reverse Phone Lookup. This is a service that provides information about the current and previous owners of any ten-digit phone number. Use it to see if the call came from a legitimate source, or if it may be from a scam artist.
Get all the facts before you make a decision. If you determine the call was fraudulent, contact the FTC. You can also notify your State Attorney General’s office to learn more about your rights. See who owns the number that called you. Then react accordingly.
For More Information
If you’d like more information about loans, credit and your rights, visit the FTC’s Credit Page. The site provides several documents to help and protect you.
Have you been called by a fake debt collector? Feel free to share your story with us in the comments section. Stay informed, watch out for clever criminal scams, and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders people search blog.