Fake Debt Collectors Phish for Personal Info; Know the Red Flags with BBB Tips

 

 

May 23, 2016

past due noticeBetter Business Bureau of Central New England has received several reports from local consumers reporting contact from dishonest callers claiming to be collecting outstanding debts. A common scam, victims receive calls demanding immediate payment or request for personal financial information, failure to comply may results in threats of arrest, jail time, garnished wages or calls to your family or employer. BBB wants locals to know the red flags of this scam and their rights when it comes to debt collection practices.

“The calls are often threatening in nature and request immediate action,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “The callers don’t know if you actually owe a debt, but they hope that the threat of serious consequences will be enough to take action without investigating the matter. This is a huge red flag, any legitimate caller should give you time to review and follow up.” Typically you will receive a call claiming to be collecting overdue payments. When you start to press for more details or perhaps deny the debt the caller becomes aggressive and hostile. Despite the threats, the callers do not have any power to have you arrested or to enforce any other consequence. In many cases, the overdue bills do not exist. Even if you do owe debts, there are rules that all debt collectors must follow.

BBB has tips to deal with intimidating phone calls. The best protection against debt collection scams is simply knowing your rights. Here’s a quick overview.

  • Ask the debt collector to provide official “validation notice” of the debt. Debt collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and a statement of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the self-proclaimed collector won’t provide the information, hang up.
  • If you think that a caller may be a fake, ask for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Then, confirm that the collection agency is real by contacting your BBB or through an internet search.
  • Do not provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have verified the call.
  • Check your credit report for by going to annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. This will help you determine if you have outstanding debts or if there has been suspicious activity under your name.
  • Tell your loved one to place a fraud alert on his/her credit report. If scammers mention family members and  have information like their name, relationship and phone number, they probably have a lot more.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the caller uses threats. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collections from being abusive, unfair or deceptive