Scams are nothing new in the financial industry but now, more than ever, there seem to be more and more scams occurring to people across the nation. What’s happening now in the scam industry is the fake debt collector. Your phone rings. You answer; it’s a debt collector telling you that you owe this much money on a debt that’s really, really old, one you don’t remember having or one you thought you paid off. They’ll tell you that you did have it, that you didn’t pay it off, and that if you don’t pay it off right this second over the phone, the police will come arrest you. They will tell you that there is an arrest warrant out for your arrest, that there will be consequences and they will play out terrible scenarios. It’s not a good feeling, and it’s going to make you panic. However, do not pay anyone – ever – over the phone. Fake debt collectors could call anyone at anytime and they get millions of dollars every year from people too scared not to pay. If you get a call like this, you should ask a few questions that will expose the collector immediately.
Know What Rights You Have
You do have rights, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. One of those rights is repeated calling. A real debt collector is not allowed to repeatedly call you. If you write them a letter to tell them to cease communications with you entirely, they have to. Additionally, the law requires that debt collectors only call within certain hours unless otherwise asked by the debtor to call back at a different time. Legitimate debt collectors will not call you prior to 8 in the morning and they will stop calling at 9 in the evening. The law requires they not bother you prior to or after these hours. A fake debt collector won’t care much about hours, and many of them are often calling from overseas in other countries. This means they’ll likely call you at odd hours attempting to collect debts that you simply do not owe. Do not engage these people. If you answer and then realize it’s a debt collector, hang up. Do not answer again. Follow this advice to expose a fake collector.
Ask About the Name of the Company, the Address and the Phone Number
You can ask this question about the debt collection agency itself, but be prepared for them to have an answer ready. They might use the name of a real debt collection agency, they might use the name of a real company and they might even use the address and other information from the company. If the collector cannot provide this information, you know it’s not a real company. Hang up and report the call to the police, who can report it to the proper authorities. If they do answer this question without hesitation, take the questioning to another level. Ask about the name, phone number, account number, address and information regarding the debt. They should be able to provide all this information to you; if not, it’s not a real collection call.
Tell the Collector You Want this Information in Writing
You do have some protection as far as your identity and personal information are concerned, even if you did legitimately default on a debt at some point in your life. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have every right to ask for proof of the debt in writing. This means that you will get approximately 30 days to contest the debt, and if you want it in writing, a legitimate debt collector is required by law to provide that for you. Real debt collectors are aware of this and will do just that. Fake debt collectors will not do this (On that note, never provide your address for this information. A real debt collector already knows it). They will tell you over the phone that you are going to be arrested immediately if you do not make the payment right here and right now. This is not going to happen – ever.
Write Down Everything
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cannot handle individual fake debt collector complaints but if they receive a large number of these complaints, they can begin an investigation. For example, if you are sure to record the number, the name of the person helping you (and no, it’s probably not their real name) the information provided about your debt and as much information as possible, you can call the FTC and provide this information to an agent. Just remember that you should never, ever pay anything like this until you can verify with certainty that the debt is real. Even if the amount if relatively small, a few hundred dollars for example, you’re going to want to ensure you do not pay it. It’s not always easier to just pay it than it is to deal with this. It’s far worse.
Ask for Your Information
Before you admit to being who you really are, ask the debt collector over the phone to provide you with your name and information. This is a great way of finding out whether or not a debt collector is real. When the caller announces the reason for the call, politely ask the caller to provide the name and phone number, address and last four digits of the social security number of the person responsible for the debt. Here is where it gets a bit tricky. Real debt collectors are required, by law, to provide you with your name, address and other debt information. However, fake debt collectors do not know this information most of the time, and they will probably answer you in a way that comes across as questionable. Now, fake debt collectors will likely provide you with the last four digits of your social if they have it. Real debt collectors, however, will not. They are not allowed to disclose that information and will not do it under any circumstance.
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