Debt Collection: How To Protect Yourself From Telephone Scams

ScamAccording to an ABC News “Nightline” investigation, there is a new “phantom” debt collection scheme targeting hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The scammers use bullying techniques to threaten cash-strapped Americans to pay money that they don’t owe.

They phone and tell their victims that they will go to jail for six months, and while they are there, they will lose their jobs and “won’t get a single drop of water.”

When they call they identify themselves as either police officers, FBI agents or claim to be from the Department of Justice, according to Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

Leibowitz calls it a hardcore type of scam and its starting to become more common.

According to Leibowitz there are ways consumers can protect themselves and their money.

Identifying Potential Cons

  • Remember that just because someone says they are an authority figure; it doesn’t mean they actually are.
  • Ask yourself if their story makes sense? Are they phoning about a debt that you have never heard of?
  • Always be suspicious of people claiming to be law enforcement. Chances are slim that any of the law enforcement agencies would be involved in loan collections.
  • Listen for clues about the caller. For example, if someone identifies themselves as Mike Johnson, but have a thick Indian accent, that would be a red flag.
  • If it is a con, the caller won’t provide you with any ways to contact them, such as a phone number, email, or mailing address.
  • Be suspicious of requests for personal financial information that a legitimate debt collector wouldn’t ask for, or threats of legal action.

If you think you have been contacted by a debt collection scam, ask for the name and number of the caller, and the company they are from. Do not give them any personal information and call and report the telephone call to the FTC and state authorities. 

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