7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scammers

how to avoid debt collectors

Dealing with legitimate debt is hard enough without paying out money you don’t even owe. Consumers often fall into this trap when debt piles up. Scammers send fake letters and make bogus phone calls to take advantage of folks already struggling with actual bills. These scams are sophisticated, carefully planned, and, unfortunately, very effective.

The first step in calculating debt is to list all your credit accounts and then choose a method for paying them off. A debt snowball calculator will show you what happens when you pay off balances in order from smallest to largest. At the same time, the debt avalanche method starts with the account with the highest interest rate, then progresses from there.

debt collection scammers

Scammers will call you about debts that sound very similar to those on your list. Sometimes, their offer will sound so good that consumers will jump on it, making a payment before verifying that the individual contacting them works for a legitimate debt collection agency. These criminals basically prey on desperation so you need to learn how to avoid all these financial scams.

Here are seven ways you can stop them:

1. Hang up the phone

Scammers need you to engage if they’re going to be able to scam you. If the call feels suspicious, just hang up the phone. Legitimate collection agencies will send you something in the mail if they can’t reach you by phone.

2. Ask for it in writing

You could do this before hanging up the phone, but don’t volunteer any personal information. Scammers could also be phishers trying to collect Social Security and bank account numbers. Never give those out over the phone.

3. Request a court case number

First off, a debt collector, even a legitimate one, cannot “take you to court.” Only an attorney can do that. If a caller threatens to take you to court, ask for a court case number and location. They’ll usually hang up after that.

4. Record the phone call

If you have a recorder app on your phone, use it. Let them know you’re using it. Sometimes the words, “I’m going to record this call,” will get them to hang up the phone. If they persist, record the entire call, and report them to the FTC.

5. Send the call to voicemail

This is a good policy for any phone number you don’t recognize. Let the call go through to voicemail and see if they leave a message. You can then use the information on that message to verify legitimacy.

6. Hire a lawyer

If you feel you’re being scammed or have already been a victim of debt collection fraud, hire an attorney to handle the legal side of things for you. There are also government agencies you can turn to for help.

7. Mess with the caller

They’re wasting your time. Why not steal a little of theirs? Aggressive consumers have fun with shady collection calls. Make inane comments, be rude, and ask them about their family. Give them a strong dose of their own medicine.

How To Report a Debt Scammer To Authorities

There are several government agencies you can turn to when a debt scammer approaches you. File your initial complaint with the FTC, then send a copy to your state’s Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau. That should get some wheels in motion.

You also might want to loop in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This will help protect others from falling for the same scam, as both agencies have extensive databases on fraudsters.


How To Prevent Identity Theft and More

If you want to be the first to find out the most prevalent scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails – we promise not to spam. On the same token, educate yourself with some other fraud-related articles right under this paragraph, so that you can protect yourself in other aspects. Last but not least, feel free to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.

Here are some must-reads for the end:

Record Retrieval Document Scam

Debt Rescue Company Scam

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