Know Your Rights

Avoiding Debt Collection Scams

Collectors can be ruthless in their collection efforts, especially during this time of year.  As a consumer, it is our obligation not to give in to their scrupulous tactics and let them convince you into handing over a payment you may not even owe.  Collection scams are becoming more common than ever as more and more consumers fall prey to the pressure of a collector. 

After a recent settlement of a claim filed by the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"), the FTC announces consumers need to be aware of how scams work and what to do to avoid becoming a victim.  The FTC found that a typical scam used by bogus collectors is leaving voicemail messages threatening to file suit against the debtor.  Collectors falsely identify themselves as special investigators, police officers or lawyers to make the messages sound more official and intimidating.  The majority of consumers would return the message out of fear of being sued, garnished or sent to jail even if positive he or she did not have any debt.  For the small percentage of consumers that do not return the call, the calls will continue and more than likely become more harassing, calling you at work and at inconvenient hours.       

Avoiding a scam collection situation is as easy as knowing your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").  Calling back a collector is not a bad idea, especially if the calls continue, just make sure you have no intention of making payment until the collector can prove with absolutely certainty the debt is yours. 

  1. Ask the collector to provide you with validation of the debt.  Collectors are required by law to provide you proof of the debt in writing and a refusal to do so, means the collector is more than likely a fake. 
  2. If you believe the collector is fictitious ask for his or her name and the name and address of the collection agency.  Use your available resources to confirm the name of the agency and its legitimacy.
  3. Never provide the collector with any of your personal information, including your full name, social security number, address, account number, etc.  A legitimate collector would already have all of your information and should be providing it to you.
  4. Review your credit report for the debt the collector claims you owe.  If you in fact owe a debt, the original creditor more than likely reported the account as unpaid on your credit file.
  5. Don't be fooled into thinking because a collector has your personal information the debt is legitimate and you are obligated to make payment.
  6. Understand, legally you cannot be sent to jail for failure to pay a debt, as it is not a crime, and to garnish your wages you must first be served with a lawsuit and have the opportunity to represent yourself in a court of law.

Be aware of your rights under the FDCPA.  If you are in need of advice of assistance in dealing with a collection agency contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review.

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