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4 Facts a fake debt collector hopes you don’t know

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Never confirm such personal information with any debt collector over the phone. Social Security number, banking information, and other personal details can be collected and used to steal your identity.

Instances of fake debt collector calls are on the rise. Let’s face it, debt collection calls can be scary, especially with the tactics used by some debt collectors. Even if the debt is legitimate few people enjoy interacting with a debt collector.

Debt collection scams are successful because most people are caught off-guard. Many times victims of scam debt collectors do not owe a debt or the debt being collected is outdated.

Scam collectors sometimes make outrageous claims like threatening arrest, jail time or filing lawsuits when no such legal action will ever take place. These claims can intimidate consumers enough to get them to pay up.

It may be hard to believe that consumers would pay up knowing they do not actually owe a debt but some just want to make it go away. Here are 4 facts scam debt collectors hope you don’t know:

1. Debt collectors cannot threaten you.

It’s illegal for debt collectors to threaten you. Threatening consumers is prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and, your state laws probably have the same kind of provisions governing debt collectors. Any debt collector, whether real or fake; threatening some kind of severe action if you don’t pay immediately is probably making false threats.

Debt collectors are also prohibited from saying that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt and that legal action will be taken against you, if they don’t intend to take the action. If you’re going to get sued for a debt, you’ll be served with legal documents, not a call demanding payment.

2. You are entitled to business name and address.

Fake debt collectors often refuse to give you their business address. They may get angry when you ask and try to redirect the conversation. Any business demanding money from you should have no problem providing their business name and address.

3. Request you pay with a prepaid card.

Fake debt collectors often tell consumers to send money through Western Union or a prepaid debit card. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. That means they cannot force you to pay with a prepaid card or through Western Union if that would be inconvenient for you.

4. You are entitled to written validation of the debt.

If you ask for written validation of the debt, it must be provided to you by the debt collector. A fake debt collector will more than likely try to dodge this requirement. The collector may try to maneuver around the problem, saying the confirmation letter has already been sent or he can send you one in an email, but that’s not the answer. You’re entitled to that written validation that must include the amount of debt owed and the name of the creditor you owe.

Debt collection calls may scare some and infuriate others but before you hand over any money, investigate the situation. Even if the debt is real, there’s no reason you should have to pay immediately, so stay calm, and take some time to find out if the caller is a real or fake debt collector. A good place to start is to “google” the number that called you. Fake debt collectors will often contact a number of people around the same time-frame and some consumers will share their experiences online.

If the abusive behavior continues, report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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