Last month, we began discussing how the Federal Trade Commission was officially sounding the alarm about the growing problem of phone calls from fake debt collectors.
To recap, consumers across the nation are being inundated with calls from fake debt collectors seeking to collect on loans that were never received, loans that were previously settled or loans for which permission to collect was never actually granted by the lenders.
While this news is understandably distressing, we also discussed how consumers can protect themselves by being on the lookout for some telltale signs of fake debt collectors.
In today's post, we'll continue this discussion by focusing on some valuable information from the FTC on how consumers can effectively turn the tables on these scammers.
If a consumer has strong suspicions that the person with whom they are speaking is a fake debt collector, they are strongly advised to consider taking the following steps:
- Inform the caller that you are unable and unwilling to continue speaking until a written document known as a "validation notice" is received in the mail. This document, which you have a legal right to request and receive, must outline everything from the name of lender and the amount owed to your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If they refuse to honor this request, resist the temptation to pay in the hopes that the matter will go away.
- Much like you must resist the temptation to pay, the FTC indicates that you must resist the temptation to provide any sort of sensitive personal or financial information (Social Security number, credit card number, etc.) as there's a very good chance it could result in some manner of identity theft. Indeed, it's important not to be tricked into providing this information, such as the purported debt collector asking for it as a means of helping clear the matter up.
- In the event you are able to secure the address of the purported debt collector, hang up and immediately send them a letter demanding that they cease all contact. The law is on your side in this regard.
- If the liability that the purported debt collector is referencing is indeed real and valid, contact the creditor immediately to share your suspicions and to verify if it has actually authorized any third party to collect on its behalf.
- Contact the FTC and/or the state Attorney General's office to report the matter, as doing so can help you learn more about your rights and your options, and help protect others from being victimized.
Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional committed to protecting your rights if you are dealing with relentless creditor harassment or have other consumer protection concerns.