Debt collection scams pose a serious threat to consumers. In today’s episode of Scambook TV, Kevan offers several warning signs to help you watch out for fake collection agencies. He also describes 4 safety tips to follow if you think you’re being harassed by a scammer.
First, Kevan describes a common tactic used by fake debt collectors. Second, he suggests five questions to ask yourself about the debt collection phone call, which you can use to determine if you think you’re being targeted. Then, he recommends a few actions you can take to protect yourself and help law enforcement. Don’t get scammed into paying a debt you don’t owe!
Here’s how these scams usually happen. You get a phone call from someone who claims to represent a debt collection agency. The caller may sound very professional and use the name of a fictitious, yet official-sounding financial institution, such as “Check Solution Services.” They tell you that you’re past due on your latest loan payment, or there was a problem processing the payment, so you need to send the money again.
To Make Sure You’re Not Being Scammed, Ask Yourself…
Do you remember this loan? Is this a loan you know you’ve already paid off?
Is the caller asking you for personal information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account routing number?
Do they want you to send the payment via money transfer, such as Western Union?
Are they bullying you with threats of jail time, legal actions or even physical violence?
If The Answer Is Yes…
If you’ve answered any of these questions with a “yes,” be very careful! You might be dealing with a scammer. Obviously, you should hang up the phone. But if you continue to be harassed, consider the following safety tips:
Tip #1. Don’t give the caller any personal information. Even if they’re pressuring you with legal actions or arrest, you have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that protect you from threats and you don’t have to give out any personal information over the phone.
Tip #2. Get information from the caller, such as their name, the name of their supervisor, the location they’re calling from, and their phone number. This information will be helpful if you need to contact law enforcement or pursue legal action to protect yourself.
Tip #3. Check your finances independently. Review your bills to find out if you’re behind on any payments, and if you have any loans, contact your creditor on your own. Your financial institution will be able to review your records, provide information about your current balance and any payments owed, and find out if one of their representatives has been trying to reach you.
Tip #4. Report the call! You can file a complaint on Scambook or report the call to the FTC or your State Attorney General.
If the caller is threatening you or your family with physical violence, call the police right away.
Know Your Rights as a Debtor
Remember, even if you’ve fallen behind on your payments, you still have rights that protect you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act limits debt collectors from harassing you.
The FTC declares that it’s illegal for a debt collector to do any of the following:
- Use obscene language, threaten you, or publish your name on a delinquency list.
- Fake false statements about their identity (such as claiming to be a government official) or lie about the amount you owe.
- Tell you that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt.
For a complete list of rules and regulations that govern debt collection agency, check out the FTC’s page here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection
Trust your instincts and don’t get scammed by a fake debt collector. Be very careful with your personal information and don’t send money to anyone who seems suspicious.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever encountered debt collection fraud? How did you deal with the situation? Share your experience in the comments below.