If you fell behind on your car payments or stopped paying your credit card bills, you probably would not be surprised if a debt collector called. That’s exactly what predators are counting on. 

Throughout the United States, conmen target debtors by posing as debt collectors. In this article we will discuss how to tell when a fake debt collector contacts you and what you can do about it.

A fake debt collector may be extremely convincing

The first thing to keep in mind is that the people pretending to be debt collectors can be extremely convincing. In many cases, they may have the same information creditors provide to legitimate debt collection agencies. This usually includes your name, address, complete or partial Social Security number, and relevant financial facts. 

Because some of this information is easily sourced online or through social media, authorities advise consumers not to assume the person who has it is a legitimate debt collector. Experts also warn consumers to be wary of anyone claiming to be a debt collector who asks for this information. Fake debt collectors often use this tactic to obtain confidential material.

Clues that the debt collector is not legitimate

Although they are known for being unpleasant, there are certain things that real debt collectors simply cannot do. A real debt collector is usually prohibited from: 

  • Refusing to provide certain information.
  • Contacting you early in the morning or late at night without your consent.
  • Threatening to disclose information about your debt to colleagues, friends, or family (unless you have provided permission to share certain details).
  • Pretending to be a government official or wrongfully threatening you with criminal prosecution or punishment.

If a purported debt collector contacts you and does any or all of the above, it is most likely a scam. You may also be dealing with a fake debt collector if you are not familiar with the debt they say you owe. Being pressured to make an immediate payment is another clue that something is amiss.

Steps to take if a fake debt collector contacts you

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises anyone who believes a fake debt collector contacted them to:

  • Turn the tables on the caller by requesting certain information including their name, the debt collection agency’s name or company’s name, street address, and telephone number.
  • Decline to discuss the matter until you get a “validation notice” that specifies the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • Refuse to pay if the alleged debt collector does not provide any or all of the information noted in the bullet points above.
  • Ask the caller to refrain from any further contact. This must be done in a written letter sent to the caller’s address. Real debt collectors are barred from calling you once you have sent a formal request to cease contact.
  • Protect your identity by refusing to share any information that could be used to commit identity theft or similar fraud.
  • Verify the debt by contacting your creditor and asking if they have retained the “debt collector” that called you.
  • Report the suspicious activity to the FTC or the state attorney general’s office.

If you live in Nevada or Washington, Debt Rescue Law is also here for you. We are dedicated to helping our clients get out of debt as quickly and safely as possible. Call us at 833-707-1234 to learn more about how we can help you, today.

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