There is a very popular scheme that has grown over the past few years. It is scammers that pose as collection agencies and debt collectors and attempt to get consumers to pay them. This type of scammer will often use harassing and abusive techniques in order to frighten you into giving them personal and bank information. They do this falsely while the consumer believes they are actually paying a real debt. Most people find it difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate collector and a scammer. To avoid becoming the next victim, watch out for the possible red flags that indicate the call you are receiving is not from a legitimate collection agency.
How This Scam Works
This is a very straight forward scam. Scammers will pose as collectors by calling the consumer directly. Actually, the scammer may already possess much of your personal information. They may have accessed that personal information through identity theft or by obtaining a copy of your credit report. By having your information upfront, they can appear to be collecting on a debt that you actually owe. This adds to the creditability of the collector which can make the scam even more believable. They may pose as a representative of one of your creditors. You potentially can be sending money to someone not remotely related to your creditor or giving up personal financial information.
Are You Being Scammed?
Here are some tips to help you determine whether or not it is a legitimate collector or a scammer.
1. The caller will demand payment today. They may pose threats like a possible lawsuit or legal action which can be avoided if payment is made today. Legitimate collectors will usually not threaten legal action if not paid by the end of the day.
2. The caller becomes abusive and harassing. Scammers may resort to blatant and aggressive threats. They may threaten that the police have been called or that a lawsuit has been filed. These are all false threats.
3. The caller refuses to give the name and physical address of the collection agency. If they can’t or won’t provide that information, it is a sure sign that this is a scam. A legitimate collection agency will readily give this information.
4. The caller does not accept different methods of payment. Legitimate collectors will accept just about any method of payment. Their main goal is to collect on a debt by any means. The scammer will usually want payment over the phone using your credit card.
5. The caller tries to refer you back to the original creditor for information. Legitimate collectors should already have all of the pertinent information on hand. If the caller can’t provide basic information about the debt like the amount, account number, debtor’s name, etc., it is probably a scam.
6. The phone is answered immediately when you call. Real collection agencies have complex phone systems with employees to take and route calls. If your call is answered immediately, it is probably a mobile phone and you are talking to a scammer.
7. You talk to the same person each time. Legitimate collection agencies usually have numerous agents and you are more than likely going to talk to a different person at some point.
If You Think You Are Being Scammed
1. Don’t pay a penny. Until you are sure that it is in fact a legitimate collection agency, don’t pay anything. Do some further research to verify the authenticity of the company.
2. Do a reverse phone number look up. You can use Google or other methods to discover the source of the phone number. You may discover others that have had the same problem you may have had. Also, there are websites devoted to discussions about collection scammers.
3. You can call the original creditor. The original creditor will be able to give you information about the company that they hired to collect the debt.
If The Caller IS A Scammer
- Take control of the calls that you receive. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls that you receive, you can place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online you can visit donotcall.gov. If you choose to register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you wish to register.
- You can fiile a complaint with the FTC. If you think that you may have been a victim of a Debt Collection Scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC, or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
For more details on federal regulations regarding debt collection, please click here to connect with the FTC’s Consumer Finance Website.
Thanks very much for reading this post on Debt Collection Scams. Please feel free to leave your comments or questions below. Also, if you know of other scams where we can help protect others, please note them and I will be glad to investigate.