How to find out of a call is a legitimate debt collector or a scam.

Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney

Lately, here at the office, we’ve been receiving a lot more calls from clients about calls they have been receiving from companies trying to collect on loans that the clients don’t remember ever taking out.  More and more, our follow-up efforts are leading us to find out that the call is actually a scam.

Scam artists posing as debt collectors are becoming more common now that information is more easily accessible over the Internet.  They usually call threatening legal action and using high pressure tactics to get you to agree to give them credit card or bank account information, but rarely giving actual information about the debt they are trying to collect, or the creditor they represent.

We would like to give you some tips to help in determining if a call is from a fake debt collector:

  • If you think a call is from a fake debt collector, ask the caller for his/her name, the company’s name, their address and telephone number, and the creditor they represent.  If they won’t give you this information, it’s likely a scam.
  • Refuse to discuss the debt until they send you a written “validation notice”.  This is something a debt collector must provide, when requested, that includes the amount owed, the name of the creditor, and a disclosure of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  If you request this and never receive it, the call was likely from a fake debt collector.
  • Try searching the number that came up on your caller ID.  There are numerous sites on the Internet that collect reports of scam phone calls and tag them to the Caller ID number. (800notes.com and whocallsme.com are two popular sites).  Oftentimes, many other people have been called by the same number, and have already gone through the legwork of determining whether it’s a scam.
  • If they do identify a debt that you think you owe, but are still suspicious of the call, contact your creditor.  The creditor should provide you with information about who they have authorized to collect the debt.
  • NEVER give out credit card or bank account information over the phone.  There are much more secure ways to make payments, if you do find out that it is a legitimate debt collection call.
  • If you believe the call to be a scam, contact the FTC and your state Attorney General’s office to report it.  The best way to put an end to these calls is a for us all to make an effort to ensure that the authorities know about the problem!

For more information on fake debt collector scams, please visit the FTC’s website at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt076.shtm

If you need assistance with agressive debt collectors, contact us or call us at 320-2010 for a free no obligation consulation on how bankruptcy can assist you in dealing with debt collectors.