You may be minding your own business one day, and then you get a sudden call from a “debt collector” that claims you owe them money. However you may not recall owing a debt or suspect that the debt in question is not yours. People often get calls from people claiming to be debt collectors and get hounded about debts they do not recognize. Even worse, these debt collectors may even become abusive and harass people into paying them money when the debt may not even exist in the first place.
It is important to be wary of any debt collector that tries to coerce you into paying a debt that does not seem familiar to you. Luckily, there are a few things to keep in mind when you get one of these calls.
A lot of scammers out there tend to impersonate people to try to trick you or others into giving them money. Scammers may mimic a government official, an authority figure, or anything in between, which includes actual debt collectors. There are many legitimate debt collectors in the financial industry.
Debt collection agencies will often buy debt from big creditors and banks, and go after the original debtor to get their money back. These agencies will often buy the debt en masse, paying pennies for the dollars owed. Then they will ask for the full debt amount to make a profit. Keep in mind that these debt collection agencies must also follow United States law when it comes to collecting any debt from consumers.
Here are a few ways to distinguish legitimate debt collectors from scammers:
- They ask you to immediately pay for a debt that you DO NOT recognize. If you keep track of your finances, you’ll know right away if you owe debt or not.
- The scammer will refuse to give you the company’s address, phone number, or any key information about their organization. They may even call with a spoofed or scrubbed-out number. Under the law, these debt collection agencies must disclose who they are and where they operate.
- The person trying to collect may use abusive language and try to threaten you with law enforcement. They may threaten to call the cops on you or bring government officials into the ordeal.
If any of these things occur on a phone call, hang up immediately as these are red flags when it comes to debt collection.
If you get one of these calls, it’s important to verify whether the debt is yours or not. According to United States law, debt collectors are obligated to give you certain information regarding the debt and must validate the debt with you. Debt collectors must give you proper information when they call you. They can also verify any information or debt through writing as well. This information includes the amount the debt is worth, the name of the agency or current creditor, and the name of the original creditor or furnisher.
If some information does sound legitimate, then you must investigate the debt, even if you do recognize it, to see if the information is correct. Ask who the debt collection agency is and who’s calling about the debt. Agents are required to give their name and the name of the debt collection agency. This information should also include the phone number of the agency and its address.
Next, make sure to check with the original creditor where the debt originated from to make sure that the creditor sold the debt to the agency. The only way an agency can collect a debt is if the original creditor sold the debt.
Whether or not the debt collector is legitimate or not, they are required by law to collect the debt responsibly. This means that they cannot use profane or abusive language on the phone to scare you into giving them money.
Ignore any debt collector that uses abusive language, tries to coerce you, or threaten you. Common scare tactics include saying they can suspend your driver’s license, report the debt to your employer, or even get the police involved. Ignore the calls if they continue this practice by calling you multiple times or cause stress and discomfort. These agencies must follow the law when they collect their debt, which means they cannot lie about anything regarding the debt. Lies can include giving false information, telling you different amounts you owe, or threatening to arrest you.
If you suspect that you have gotten a scam debt collector or even a legitimate but abusive debt agent, then report them to the FTC about the situation at reportfraud.ftc.gov. Even real debt collectors cannot harass or threaten you, so it’s important to report them.
If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 877-212-2450!
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