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.

But how do you know if they are legitimate or crooks? Fortunately, debt collectors are highly regulated, and you can use that against them. Here are three things you can do to find out.

  1. Get Information on the Caller. 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.
  2. Demand a Validation of Debt. The law 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. Find out what the notice must contain.
  3. Test Their Knowledge of the Law. Ask them to provide the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. As the law 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.

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!

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Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.