Debt Collection Scams: How to Know the Difference

Debt collection scams have become more prevalent over the years, cheating people out of their time, money and peace of mind. In these scenarios, a scam artist poses as a representative from a collection agency and tricks unsuspecting callers into giving them personal bank and financial information. There are some “red flags” you can watch out for to protect your personal information and bank account.

Red Flags for Collection Agency Scams

  1. The collector uses threats or harassment to get you to pay. If the call is from a true collection agency, they are required to follow the regulations outlined in the FDCPA to prevent debt collector harassment. If the collector seems abnormally abusive or throws around blatant threats of lawsuits or jail time, it is likely a scammer.
  2. The debt collector withholds information or refuses to answer questions about your debt. As the consumer, you have a right to ask for verification of the debt in question. If you do, the collection agency is required to confirm the debt with the original creditor and send you written verification through the mail.
  3. The collector will not provide you with a mailing address or business name. If you request the physical address or name of the collection agency they are calling from and the collector cannot or will not provide you with this information, this is a telling sign that the call is likely a scam.
  4. The debt collector demands immediate payment. Scammers often use the threatening tactics mentioned above to scare you into paying immediately. While it is true that debt collection agencies are looking for payment when they call, they will not usually threaten immediate punishment if payment is not made that day.

When dealing with collection agency scams, use your intuition. If something seems fishy, then it probably is. Legitimate agencies will always provide you with the information you need upfront, so don’t be afraid to ask the debt collector questions to keep your personal information and pocket book safe.

Please keep in mind however, that legitimate collection agencies are required to validate who they are speaking with in order to release information. This is to protect consumer data or the existence of a debt from being communicated to an unauthorized third party.