When a caller says you owe hundreds of dollars for an unpaid debt, it can make your heart race and mind spin as you try to remember that debt. Scaring you into paying a debt you don’t really owe is exactly what fake debt collectors hope to do.These scammers pose as debt collection agencies, sometimes even using the name of real businesses or names that are very similar. And they may even be talking about a debt you really owe. You see they’ve done their homework by trolling for bits and pieces of financial information from public databases or data they bought illegally.One these fake debt collectors informed a Greensboro woman that her payday loan was in collections. They also said they’d serve papers on her if she didn’t pay $900 that day. Her next steps are a model for you: First, she got the name of the caller, their direct line and the business they supposedly represented. She asked for the name of the creditor and a case number. Then, on her own, she found the number for her pay day loan company and called them. Her real lender told her she was not on the collection’s list. Then she called us.Based on the information provided by the consumer, BBB staff have attempted to verify the legitimacy of the debt collector. In a recent phone call, a worker identified the business as “Alternative Dispute Resolution.” They said they were located at 3730 Kirby Drive, Suite 2200 in Houston, Texas. BBB has learned Suite 2200 does not exist. When BBB staff called the company back to discuss the address, the phone just rang busy. We have also not been able to locate a website for the business.This consumer is not alone. In just the last seven months, 1302 debt collection scams were reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker. Many conmen were trying to collect on payday loans.Besides verifying a possible collections issue with your creditor, here a few more ways you can tell you’re being scammed:The caller is abusive and threatens you with a lawsuit or jail. Neither legitimate nor fake collection agencies have the power to do either.The caller demands payment “today.” Real debt collectors want to get paid but they rarely demand payment that day.The caller insists you use a non-traditional form of payment like a pre-loaded credit card.Someone answers the phone immediately when you call. Legitimate debt collectors have complex phone systems which route you to a collection’s agent.If a phony debt collector contacts you, BBB wants to know about it. Report it online to our Scam Tracker . You should also file a complaint with the FTC.