Receiving a harassing call or email from a debt collector can be troubling, especially when you are not sure if the company calling isn’t a scammer. The best protection against debt collection scams is simply knowing your rights.
Follow these tips when dealing with debt collectors:
- Ask the debt collector to provide an official “validation notice” of the debt. Collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, 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 or delete the email.
- If you think a caller may be a fake, ask for the name, company, street address and telephone number. Confirm that the collection agency is real and research them online.
- Do not provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone or through email until you have verified the call.
- Do not click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
- Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know or haven’t met.
- Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. This will help determine if you have outstanding debts or if there has been suspicious activity.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov if the caller uses threats. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from being abusive, unfair or deceptive.
- Federal government agencies don’t ask people to send money for unpaid loans. If you still feel unsure, look up the official number of the agency the caller is purporting to represent. There is no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to wire money or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay a debt. If the debt is legitimate — but you think the collector may not be — contact your creditor about the calls. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB.org