Is Your Debt Collector Legitimate or a Scam?

The Coronavirus pandemic has left many Pennsylvanians overwhelmed with financial hardship, job loss, and mounting debts. Those struggling to pay bills before the COVID-19 outbreak may now face a spike in telephone calls from debt collectors. If this happens, how do you know if a debt collector is a scam or legitimate?

In my experience as a Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney during financially uncertain times, it is not unusual to see an increase in fraudulent schemes to get gain access to your money. Phone scams — sometimes known as phone fraud — are common as scammers try to get your money. It is nothing but another method of theft. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned a favorite tactic of scammers is to call you regarding collecting a loan. Creditors never authorized these callers to recover loans for them in the first place, which means the scammer will keep whatever money you pay and you will be left still owing the creditor.

Scam debt collectors will usually call you and start talking about a loan or debt you do not recognize. These loans can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a thousand dollars or more. If you receive a call from someone asking about debts, there is a chance this person may be trying to con you.

5 Signs a Debt Collector is a Scam

When dealing with debt collection calls it is important to ask the caller questions. Below are five signs your debt collector is a scammer, and some ways to tell the difference between a real debt collector and a fake one.

  1. Fails to Disclose Identifying Information
    The first thing you should do when getting a call from a debt collector is to ask for his information, such as his name, address, his company’s name, and telephone number. It is also important to ask the name of the creditor he represents. If he refuses to tell you the answers to any of these questions, it is a scam. A legitimate debt collector will have no problem is being open and honest about this information.
  2. Requests Your Personal Financial Information or Social Security Number
    If the “debt collector” asks about your personal financial information or anything that might be sensitive, it is a scam. A real debt collector will already have your info, and he will not ask you to “verify” it for him. Never give information regarding your credit cards, bank accounts, or your Social Security Number to strangers. Once they have access to your info, they can clone your credit cards and your bank accounts.
  3. Threatens Criminal Action or Reporting to Law Enforcement
    The fake debt collector might try to scare you as well, pressuring you into taking action in that moment. He might threaten to report you to a law enforcement agency or to have you arrested. If he is a scammer, he cannot do any of that. It is important to know that only scammers will try to coerce you into paying using fear. Hang up the phone immediately and contact your bank to be sure everything is fine.
  4. Demands Immediate Payment Via Wire Transfer or Prepaid Credit Card
    If the “debt collector” demands immediate payment via wire transfer or a prepaid credit card, it is likely a scam. These payment methods are the hardest to trace, which will ensure the fake debt collector gets away with his fraud.
  5. Fails to Provide Written Validation Notice
    Before talking about your possible debts, you should ask for the debt collector to give you a written validation notice stating how much you owe. Debt collectors are bound by the law to give you all information regarding debts as well as the name of the original creditor and a way to challenge the debt. If the person calling you refuses, it is likely a scam.

If anything about a call with a debt collector seems unusual, hang up the phone immediately. You can do a Google search on the caller’s phone number as well, since you may find online reports of others who were also called by the scammer. If you are still unsure, check your credit report. Never make any payments before being sure the debt is real.

Seek Expert Advice from a Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney

The attorneys at Alfred Abel Law Offices are dedicated to practical and effective legal advice regarding debt collection and bankruptcy matters for individuals and businesses. Our experienced bankruptcy lawyers are dedicated to helping people in Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas overcome difficult financial situations and to finding effective solutions so you can move forward.

Call Alfred Abel Law Offices today at (215) 517-8300 or (610) 940-1635 or contact our bankruptcy firm online.