Is this debt collector the “Real Deal”?

There has been a recent uprising of scam collection calls targeting both debtors that have filed for bankruptcy and those that have not.  Sometimes, the collection calls are merely targeting people who are not delinquent on payments, but have taken out an online loan.  These collection efforts are called “Scams” or “Phantom Debt Collectors”, but whatever they are called, they are very frightening and are very REAL to the victims.

What do you do if a debt collector calls to verify if this is a legitimate call?  Both the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau offer similar advice of steps to take, if at any time, the caller refuses, HANG UP, this is a SCAM!  Follow up by reporting the Call to your State Attorney General’s office and the FTC.

                Steps to take:

  1. Ask for the caller’s name, company, street address and telephone number
  2. Ask for a written validation notice of the debt (debt collectors are required to give you this by law)
  3. After taking these steps, call the “original creditor” they are attempting to collect on behalf of and verify the debt.

As an additional caution, you can also ask the “collector” to advise you as to your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA).  If they don’t know what that is, they are not legitimate either.  By law, a debt collector must stop calling you to collect if you notify them to do so in writing.  (Note: the original creditor may continue to contact you on the debt)

The threats may feel very scary and very real.  The caller may have many items of personal information, but don’t be fooled.  These collectors often threaten imprisonment, prosecution, garnishment of wages.  In addition, they often pretend to be associated with a law firm, government agency or even with a law enforcement agency.   The creditors are often aggressive and do not want to take no for an answer.  You should NEVER give any personal information to the collector, do not give them your social security number, bank account number, credit card number, employment address or any other information that could be used for identity theft.

Be mindful, take a step back and analyze the situation, if you don’t think it is real, simply write down their name and phone number, and hang up the phone.  You are not required to continue the conversation with a harassing creditor, legitimate or not!  You also can always ask for a manager of a legitimate credit collector if you believe they are using harassing or aggressive tactics that are inappropriate. 

If you are subject to valid collection calls or are in financial trouble; please feel free to contact one of our attorneys at Pollak Hicks & Alhejaj.  We would be glad to sit down at a free initial consultation to discuss options in your individual situation. 

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© Roxanne M. Alhejaj, Attorney at Law

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