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Fall Security Insights – Debt Collection Scams


Most debt collectors will contact you to collect on legitimate debts you owe. But there are scammers who pose as debt collectors to get you to pay for debts you don't owe or ones you’ve already paid.

In most cases, a legitimate debt collector will provide you with information about the debt during or shortly after the first communication. This information may arrive as a letter often called the “validation notice.” If you don’t receive this information, you can ask for it. If you do receive this information and don’t recognize the debt or have questions, you can dispute the debt. And if a debt collector won’t send you information about the debt, that might be a sign you are dealing with a scammer.

Here are a few warning signs that could signal a debt collection scam:

  • The debt collector threatens you with criminal charges. Legitimate debt collectors should not claim that they'll have you arrested.
  • The debt collector refuses to give you information about your debt or is trying to collect a debt you do not recognize. You have certain rights to ask a debt collector about the debt, including when you don't believe you owe the debt. Ask for an explanation in writing before you pay.
  • The debt collector refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number.
  • The debt collector asks you for sensitive personal financial information. You should never provide anyone with your personal financial information unless you are sure they're legitimate.

If you think that a call may be a scam or a fake debt collector:

Ask the caller for a name, company, street address, telephone number, and professional license number. Many states require debt collectors to be licensed. Check the information the caller provides you with your state attorney general. Your state regulator may be of assistance if your state licenses debt collectors. If the caller refuses or is unable to provide you with information about the company, or if you can’t verify the information provided, do not give information or money to the caller or company.

Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice."

This notice must include:

  • The amount of the debt
  • The name of the creditor you owe
  • A description of certain rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Do not give the caller personal financial or other sensitive information. Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number unless you know the company or person you are talking with is a real debt collector. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft such as:

  • Charging your existing credit cards
  • Opening new credit card or checking accounts
  • Writing fraudulent checks
  • Taking out loans in your name

Contact your creditor. If the debt is legitimate – but you think the collector may not be – contact your creditor about the calls. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.

Every Wednesday through October, the credit union will highlight a new scam to help you stay one step ahead of the Fraudsters.

Improve your financial health by regularly visiting the APCI Federal Credit Union Financial Resource Center.

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