It is bad enough if you are struggling with debt and trying to deal with the constant calls and letters from debt collectors trying to get your money. Now, on top of that, there are scam artists out there that are using that to steal from you.
These criminals find out just enough about you to pose as a collector for one of your creditors. They then call you demanding payment, and because you do owe that creditor, you are prone to believe them. If you fall for it, they can get your money and even more personal information about you.
But fortunately, debt collectors are highly regulated, and you can use that against them. Here’s how!
Demand Information About THEM
As stated above, debt collectors are highly regulated, particularly by the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), which requires that they identify themselves properly. Demand to know the full name of the debt collecting company, its address, and telephone number. If the caller won’t do this or tries to avoid doing so, hang up.
If the caller does provide an address, verify it with a quick Google search. It is hard to hide on the Internet, and if Google does not come up with them at that location, they are probably a scammer.
As for a telephone number, try calling them back. A real company will most likely route you through a complex set of options. If the debt collector answers directly, he is probably a scammer.
Demand a Validation of Debt
The FDCPA requires a debt collector to provide a validation of the debt within 5 days of initial contact. Refuse to discuss anything with the caller until you get it. This notice must contain:
- the amount of the debt;
- the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
- a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
- a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and
- a statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
Test Their Knowledge of the Law
Ask them to provide the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. As the FDCPA prevents a debt collector from doing this, a properly trained, legitimate one will not do it. If the caller does provide personal information, do not verify it; they are just looking for more information to commit identity theft.
So What Do I Do?
Whether the caller is a scammer or not, you should demand a validation of debt, and then refuse to talk to them until it is provided; hang up the phone. Then, if you do get a proper, written validation in the mail, from a company you can verify on the Internet, then you need to deal with it.
If you live in southern New Jersey and would like my assistance in dealing with the debt, feel free to call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment in my Woodbury office.
Want more information on how to fight back with your creditors? Then download my free book, The Biggest Secrets Your Creditors Don't Want You to Know. Become empowered and protect your rights!