Know Your Rights

Beware of New Trend in Debt Collection Scams

There is an alarming new trend in debt collection scams.   Watch out for fake collection companies that are calling on legitimate debts.  These callers have information about debts that you owe, but have no authority to collect them.  Exactly how this information is obtained is unknown.  What you need to watch out for our bogus companies collecting on debts you owe but have no permission to collect.  They are scammers. 

The caller typically does not identify the name of the company, they refuse to provide you with their address, their phone number is not traceable, they have a general company name with no website or BBB listing and  they refuse to speak to attorneys calling on behalf of their clients. 

What do you mean?
Fake companies are trying to collect legitimate debts that have been defaulted.   We see this daily for payday loans, but never for credit cards  This is new.  In the last week, we have received calls about worried consumers who are being threatened with arrest or fraud charges unless they made a payment for their charged off credit card, usually Credit One, immediately.

How will I know what to look for?
A collector must make meaningful disclosure of their identity.  They cannot hide who they are.   If you ask for their address, they will readily give it to you.  If the company is on the defensive and seems like they are hiding information, they probably are not a real company.  If you do obtain an address from them, go check the address out on Google Maps.  If the address leads to a strip mall where there is a UPS Store or another Mailbox drop store, then chances are you are dealing with a phony company. 

Can I be arrested for failing to pay a debt or charged with fraud?
You can not be arrested for failing to pay a debt nor can you be charged with fraud.  The callers are trying to scare you into paying them immediately.  They don't want to give you a moment otherwise you will realize that they full of hot air.

What should I do to protect myself?

  • Never make a payment over the phone or provide personal information to a caller.
  • Demand they send you a bill or something in writing on their letterhead.  
  • If they are being difficult and overwhelming, get their company name and address. Look up the company, check out their website, and their listing under the Better Business Bureau.  You can also contact our office for a free consultation.  We can check them out for you - at no cost.
  • Call the original creditor and ask about your account.  They will be able to tell you if they still own it and if not, who they sold it to or who is collecting on it.
  • Pull you credit report and check to see how debt is being reported your credit history.  You can obtain your report from each of the three credit bureaus, Trans Union, Experian and Equifax for free every 12 months by contacting them directly or ordering all three through annual credit report

Accessing personal and financial information without permission has become a real threat.  Protect yourself from identity theft by asking the right questions and contacting an attorney for a free consultation.  SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting consumer rights since 2005.  Check out our website or call an attorney today for a free review.

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