How to Verify a Debt Collector is Legitimate

It’s sad but true: there are many scammers out there who try to prey on people who have financial problems. Debt collection scams are prolific

Often it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay debt collectors anyway, but if you are going to pay them it is a good idea to make sure they’re legitimate. Here’s what to look for.

The Debt Collector Threatens You

You cannot be charged with a crime for having a bad debt. Nor may a debt collector ever show up at your house. Any time you are threatened with the law, with physical violence, or with your things getting taken away from you there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a scam.

They also aren’t allowed to talk to your family members, your friends, or your employer.

Licensed debt collectors know they can be held personally liable under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This tends to ensure they stay on the right side of the law when they call you. If they are a legitimate debt collector and they’ve engaged in any of these activities, you may be able to sue them.

They Ask for Personal Information

You do not have to give up your date of birth and social security number to anyone who asks you for them. In fact, you shouldn’t. Many fake debt collectors are just identity thieves.

If it’s a legitimate creditor, they should already have all of your personal financial information.

You Did Not Receive a Written Notice

A real debt collector will send you a written notice that tells you that you have 30 days to ask them to validate the debt. The debt validation must include the amount of the debt, the amount you owe, and your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This is especially critical if you don’t recognize the debt in the first place, or do recognize it but think you’ve paid it in the past (i.e. it could be a Zombie Debt). 

They Ask for Prepaid Cards or Wired Transfers

Prepaid cards and wire transfers are non-reversible forms of payment,w hich works well when these scammers disappear into the ether. None of these transactions can be traced

A legitimate debt collector will accept credit cards, debit cards, ACH transactions, and checks.

Something Just Doesn’t Feel Right

Your gut has a pretty good idea of whether someone is spinning you a line. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t give up any information and don’t give up any money.

You never have to talk to a debt collector. Sometimes it’s a better idea to simply hang up the phone, regardless of whether you believe you are talking to a legitimate debt collector or not.

See also:

Can Creditors Send You to Jail?

What Is Zombie Debt?

4 Things to Do Before Paying a Debt Collector



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