Seasoned debt collectors are savvy when attempting to secure past due debts, if not outright calculating. However, far too many take their strategies to extreme levels that are closer to outright harassment.
An even greater threat to consumers is scammers pretending to be collectors to scam them out of money they already can’t afford to lose.
Know the signs
Just because someone claims to be a debt collector does not mean they may have ulterior motives. Certain signs exist that include:
- Pressure or threats of law enforcement involvement in an effort to elicit fear
- Repay debts that consumers are not aware of or recognize
- Refuse to provide a mailing address or phone number
Determining legitimacy is straightforward. Federal law mandates that debt collectors provide information over the phone or in writing that include debt amounts and the name of the specific creditor. Proactive detective work can take the form of identifying if the debt was sold to another company.
Threats are the biggest indication of a “shake-down” type of scam. Delinquent debt will not affect the ability to drive legally or maintain current employment. Threats that they will engage in public sharing of the debt. Other signs include:
- Claims of owing a different amount than what the consumer owes
- Pretending to be an attorney or a government representative
- Threats of arrest or claims of other types of legal actions
- Claims of charges on top of the amount owed, including interest and fees
Careful and proactive steps can help prevent scammers from taking consumers’ hard-earned money.