Have you ever been called by a debt collector or representative of a loan company, lender or credit card provider, and were informed of a debt that took you by surprise? Were you told that the sheriff would come and serve papers if you would not make good on the debt? Did you write a check by phone or do a Western Union payment to these crooks? Consumers getting these calls left and right and forking over their hard earned money to scammers posing as legitimate debt collectors. One person I know received a call like this, John wrote:
“I was called a few months ago by a man who told me that I had a medical bill that had entered into collections, and that this company had purchased the debt. He claimed if I did not pay the debt of $324 that they would file court papers and that the sheriff would serve me the papers at work, and that I could have my credit severely damaged, if I did not send the money today by western Union, that they would report the debt to all 3 credit reporting agencies. Since I have a credit score of 768 I went ahead and wired the money.”
Consumers all over America receive calls like this everyday. Most of these people only loose a few hundred dollars to these scammers, but some people fall victim to the tune of several thousand dollars. You do not need to be one of these victims. These scammers usually always leave a few clues to their scam on first contact, so we will discuss these tell tale signs that these debt collection scammers reveal. Here are several tip-offs that you are dealing with a scammer:
The scammer claims you will be served with legal papers or a lawsuit
First off if you are going to be sued, you will not receive a phone call, you will simply be served a legal notice, which in most cases is a summons or a complaint. If the debt collector scammer claims these papers will be filed if you do not pay immediately this is your tip off. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from making threats on any actions they cannot legally take.
The scammer claims they will have you “arrested” if you do not pay the debt, for check fraud
The only time you can be jailed over a debt is for legitimate check fraud where you knowingly wrote a check that bounced. Even on legitimate cases you often times are simply summoned to court not arrested outright. You cannot be arrested for simply owing a debt. Any scammer claiming this you can simply hang up the phone on, as it is a scam.
The scammer claims to be law enforcement
No law enforcement official would ever make a call to you over a debt, period, no ifs and or buts. Seriously people fall for that scam? They might even offer to give you their “badge number”, well anyone can make up a badge number. If you receive a call like this tell them you will call them back at that agencies published phone number, where you are sure you will discover that this is a scam, then that you will gladly forward their phone number to them.
Scammer has a heavy accent
While a foreign accent in and of itself is not a sure fire sign that you are talking to a scammer, many of these scams are run overseas in countries like India, Pakistan and other third world countries. They can make their phone number appear to be from the U.S on caller ID via a technique called spoofing. Take this as a red flag to be wary of.
Scammer claims they will tell your employer, friends and family about your debt
Disclosing your debt is Illegal thanks to the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. These scammers are hoping to shame or embarrass you into paying them immediately, but the law forbids this. Your debts can only be disclosed to your lawyer or your spouse.
Scammer demands to be paid immediately via Western Union or a prepaid card or via bitcoin
Huge red flag here. Honest debt collectors will send you a letter and verification of a debt if requested. Honest debt collectors will also take honest forms of payment like checks. Scammers prefer these type of transactions since they cannot be traced easily. With these payment methods you cannot cancel or reverse the payment also. This is a scam, pure and simple.
Refuses to give information on so called debt
Real debt collection agencies and lenders will discuss the debt in detail, or send you the information on the debt via the mail. They must also provide their name, address and phone number. If you question if the agency is legitimate you can connect your states Attorney General office to find out if that agency is licensed to do business in your state. If the so called collector refused to provide information, end the call with them.
Refuses to send you written notice of the debt
Federal debt collection laws actually require that any debt collection agency contact you within 5 days of first contact with you. If you are unsure if the person you are talking to is the real deal or not ask them to send you written notice on the debt, than you will discuss the debt. Note that email is not a legal substitute for written notice.