Debt-collection scams come in all shapes and sizes – and in all cities and states.
(Fort Lauderdale, FL) DATE – In Alabama, debt scammers are threatening to cut off electricity if a person doesn’t pay immediately. In Louisiana, they’re telling shell-shocked resident that police will show up at their door and arrest them. In Maryland, they called a woman 12 times a day and yelled at her – over a $625 debt she didn’t even owe.
And this isn’t an isolated circumstance — it’s a huge problem that’s getting worse. While Internet scams get most of the media’s attention, the most serious and threatening scams are over the phone – and they’re from debt collectors who feel no shame scaring law-abiding citizens who are behind on their payments. The fact is, these tactics are illegal – and we’re glad the media is shining a spotlight on this growing crisis.
There are several telltale signs people need to be on the look for. If someone calls and threatens the following, be on guard:
- “Pay up right now, or I’ll sue!” Lawsuits don’t work that way. If you get sued, you won’t get a call. Instead you get a piece of paper – called a summons or complaint and if the caller isn’t an attorney, he can’t sue you anyway. Ask the caller where they practice so you can look them up on that state’s bar association website.
- “Pay today or I’ll have you arrested for check fraud and thrown in jail!” It’s not a crime to have a debt – it’s a civil case. Check fraud means something completely different. Ask the caller what you’re specifically being charged with.
- “I’m a police officer, and I’m calling to collect your debt!” Police officers don’t make phone calls collecting debts – they’re not involved in the debt-collection process at all. Ask the caller for their badge number.
Bottom line: Don’t be intimidated. Ask for more information, and if you don’t get it, ask to so speak to a supervisor. Tell the caller you won’t tolerate threats, and if they continue, you’ll report them not only to the Better Business Bureau but also police.
And finally, if you have debt you need to pay off, don’t wait for debt collectors to call. Contact ConsolidatedCredit.org and have a certified credit counselor help you resolve your debt issues.