Stand up to Fake Debt Collectors
Learn how to protect yourself from fake debt collectors
By Lisa Lake
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
The caller is irate, intimidating and — despite the foul language — sounds convincing. He says you must make good on a payday loan or your wages will be garnished. If you applied for a payday loan before, you might start questioning your memory: “Did I miss a payment? The caller has my information, so this must be legit…”
The last thing you need is a short paycheck — especially if you’re already in a bind. So you pay. Thing is, you don’t owe them a dime. It’s a scam.
Related: 10 Ways to Avoid Scams in 2015
The FTC’s and the Illinois Attorney General’s complaint against K.I.P., LLC, Charles Dickey and Chantelle Dickey is the latest effort to stop scammers from trying to collect fake debts from consumers. According to the complaint, callers threatened to garnish wages, and they offered to accept, or “settle the debt,” for significantly less than the amount allegedly owed. In addition, the caller didn’t give the person any proof of the debt — even when asked. But the calls were so convincing that many consumers actually made payments — even though they didn’t owe.
Related: 7 Tips for Filing Your Taxes Safely
Here are a few tips for standing up to these scammers:
- Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller you won’t discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice." If the caller refuses, don’t pay.
- Put your request in writing. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires any debt collector to stop calling if you ask in writing. Of course, if the debt is real, sending such a letter does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact.
- Don’t give or confirm any personal, financial, or other sensitive information.
- Contact your creditor. If a debt is legitimate – but you think the collector isn’t — contact the company to which you owe the money.
- Report the call. File a complaint with the FTC and yourstate Attorney General's office with information about suspicious callers.