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Beware of Fake Debt Collections Targeting You in the New Year
If you are like most Americans, one of your new year’s resolutions for 2015 may be to get your finances in order, pay off debts, or increase your savings. These are all great goals for the New Year. Unfortunately, scammers know this and can sometimes even more aggressively target people with fake debt collection scams.
Because we are in the process of getting our finances for 2015 together, some fake debt collectors will use this moment to call you demanding immediate payment for debts that you do not have or even real debts that exist, but are not with the scammer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reported many scams perpetrated against consumers in 2014. While the FTC has been attempting to crack down on these scammers, these fake debt collectors are not backing down. You need to be on high alert to watch out for fake debt collectors this year and to verify all debts before releasing any personal information or paying.
How to Expose Fake Debt Collectors
If you get a suspicious call about a debt you don’t recognize or from someone who you are not sure actually offered a legitimate loan or line of credit, take action. Take these five steps to try and expose the scammer as a fake (or reveal that the debt is legitimate so that you can start resolving it).
- Get the name, address, and a phone number you can call back from the company that the collector works for. If they refuse or cannot provide this information, you know that the call is false. A real debt collector should immediately provide this information.
- Have the debt collector verify your full name and address. While some scammers may have this basic information, they are definitely not legitimate if they cannot provide it.
- Get the debt validated. Under federal law, you can submit written request for the company to confirm the debt. Once you have submitted this request, all contact must stop until the company does so. If you do not receive this validation letter or if the collector continues to hound you in the meantime, you know they are fake.
- If the person claims to be a lawyer, ask for the case number. While they should know this information, it’s actually a trick question. A legitimate debt collector knows that revealing this information outside of written notification is a violation of federal law.
- Have the debt collector confirm the last four digits of your social security number for you. This is another trick question. A legitimate debt collector will never answer this question, because it violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the scammer gives you this information (since they often have it), you know that the call is a scam. If the fake debt collector says that they do not have this information in the file, you should also be suspicious. A real debt collector should reference the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in their response.
If at any time the debt collector exposes himself or herself as a fake, stop all contact and report the scammer to the FTC. Don’t pay a debt just to get the collector to stop contacting you. Make sure that you know you are paying a legitimate entity. When we crack down on scammers, we are all safer.
If you fear you have been the victim of a fake debt collection scam or if you are in over your head receiving debt collection calls, an experienced consumer law attorney may be able to help. Call us at Luftman, Heck & Associates for a free consultation at (888) 726-3181 at any time. Find out how we can help you get free of debt collectors who are hounding you.