It’s Business, And It’s Personal

Consumer law and protecting North Carolina debtors from scams

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2021 | Consumer Protection |

The past year has been difficult in many ways for people in North Carolina and throughout the United States. Dramatic changes to the way lives are led has led to difficult adaptations and financial turmoil. Many are behind on their debts and unsure of what they can do to get into a better financial situation. With that, creditors and debt collectors are stepping up their efforts to collect on what is owed. The financial challenges people are facing has also increased the prevalence of scams for debts that people do not even owe. Understanding scamming strategies is a way to avoid them, but if people are victimized, it is important to have protection.

Combating claims that people owe phantom debts

Unscrupulous faux debt collectors will do whatever they can to accrue money from unwitting victims. One strategy that they use is “phantom debts.”  The scammer will imply that the person who supposedly owes the money could face various penalties for refusing to pay. That can include a lawsuit and assertions that they are subject to arrest and incarceration. These behaviors violate a debtor’s rights. The goal on the part of the scammer is to gather either financial benefit by convincing the person to pay or to get personal information like a Social Security number.

Government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been active in pursuing these individuals. The number of complaints about illegal debt collecting practices have been spiking in 2020. There were more than 53,000 complaints for the year. This was a rise of 8% from 2019. There are clear signs that a proclaimed debt collector may be running an illegal operation. These include violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in an obvious way by calling at times when they are legally precluded from doing so. Debtors are advised to get the caller’s information, seek proof of the debt, ignore threats, dispute any debt that he or she does not owe and seek legal guidance.

Legal protection is key to avoid debt collection scams

Older people are frequent targets of these schemes, but they can happen to anyone – especially with financial turmoil negatively impacting so many people because of the pandemic. With the overwhelming worry people feel when they have debts, they can be susceptible to statements about what they owe and accept them unquestioningly. When there is a suspicion or outright proof that there is a consumer law violation with debt collection and people paid, are being relentlessly harassed or facing other forms of mistreatment, consulting with experienced professionals can help to put a stop to it and perhaps win compensation.