Our office has recently spoken with several clients who have gotten calls from debt collection scammers. The Federal Trade Commission is calling for everyone to be on the alert for these scammers, who try to fraudulently collect on loans the consumers never received or accounts the consumers never opened.
In addition to stealing money, some of these scammers are stealing consumer’s information and then committing identity theft – opening bank accounts in their names, writing fraudulent checks and opening fake credit cards in their names.
Here are some clues that the debt collector you are speaking with is a scammer:
He threatens a lawsuit.
This is a huge red flag for consumers. If you are sued, you won’t be notified about it over the phone. You’ll be served with legal papers, and you will be given time to respond, not forced to pay immediately.
She is seeking payment for a debt that you don’t recognize and wants you to pay by Western Union or a prepaid card.
If you don’t recognize the debt a collector is trying to get payment for, don’t pay it. Ask for written proof of the debt and don’t let yourself be talked into sending money by Western Union or a prepaid card. Those funds can’t be easily traced and legitimate debt collectors will not ask you to pay that way.
He refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number and wants payment immediately over the phone.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if you request written validation of the debt, the collector is required to send it you within five days. Once you receive the notice, you have 30 days to dispute the debt. If the caller refuses to give you simple contact information for his agency, just hang up the phone.
She tried to use high-pressure tactics, like threatening to have you arrested or jailed.
You can’t be arrested just because you can’t pay a debt. Indebtedness is not a criminal matter. Additionally, local law enforcement is not going to call you to collect a personal debt. If the person claims to have a “badge number” or claims they are with the FBI, they are usually lying.
Finally, you should never give out personal information over the phone. Bank account numbers, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers can be used against you to commit identity theft. Guard your personal information as best you can.
If you have any questions about these tactics, call us today at 816-842-6200 to speak with an attorney or email us. We want to make sure that our clients are protected during their bankruptcy process.