Collectors can be ruthless in their collection efforts,
especially during this time of year. As a consumer, it is our
obligation not to give in to their scrupulous tactics and let them
convince you into handing over a payment you may not even
Collection scams are becoming more common than ever as more and
more consumers fall prey to the pressure of a collector.
After a recent settlement of a claim filed by the Federal Trade
Commission (“FTC”), the FTC announces consumers need to be aware of
how scams work and what to do to avoid becoming a victim. The
FTC found that a typical scam used by bogus collectors is leaving
voicemail messages threatening to file suit against the
debtor. Collectors falsely identify themselves as special
investigators, police officers or lawyers to make the messages
sound more official and intimidating. The majority of
consumers would return the message out of fear of being sued,
garnished or sent to jail even if positive he or she did not have
any debt. For the small percentage of consumers that do not
return the call, the calls will continue and more than likely
become more harassing, calling you at work and at inconvenient
Avoiding a scam collection
situation is as easy as knowing your rights under the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Calling back a collector
is not a bad idea, especially if the calls continue, just make sure
you have no intention of making payment until the collector can
prove with absolutely certainty the debt is yours.
- Ask the collector to provide you with validation of the
debt. Collectors are required by law to provide you proof
of the debt in writing and a refusal to do so, means the collector
is more than likely a fake.
- If you believe the
collector is fictitious ask for his or her name and the name
and address of the collection agency. Use your available
resources to confirm the name of the agency and its
- Never provide the collector with any of your personal
information, including your full name, social security number,
address, account number, etc. A legitimate collector would
already have all of your information and should be providing it to
- Review your
credit report for the debt the collector claims you owe.
If you in fact owe a debt, the original creditor more than likely
reported the account as unpaid on your credit file.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking because a collector has your
personal information the debt is legitimate and you are obligated
to make payment.
- Understand, legally you cannot be sent to jail for failure to
pay a debt, as it is not a crime, and to garnish your wages you
must first be served with a lawsuit and have the opportunity to
represent yourself in a court of law.