If you have overdue bills, a debt collector might send letters or call you demanding payments. But how do you know if they are legitimate?
Unfortunately, fraud collectors might harass and convince you to pay nonexistent bills. Before taking further action, you can take these steps to determine if they are legitimate:
- Ask them for information about the debt, such as the creditor’s name and the amount you owe. You could dispute the debt and ask for verification if it seems unfamiliar. Illegitimate collectors will have problems providing these essential details.
- Check the payment options they recommend. It might be illegitimate if they pressure you to use untraceable payment methods.
- Do they immediately threaten you with imprisonment or other penalities? They might also use the names of government officials to scare you. However, certain debts, such as fines or restitution, could lead to an arrest if left unpaid.
- You might be facing a scammer if they pressure you by threatening to tell your family, friends or employer about your debt. It is typically an unlawful action, and collectors usually do not resort to doing so. They could contact people you know to learn where you are, but they cannot reveal your debt information.
Additionally, illegitimate debt collectors might aggressively ask for your personal information for identity theft. If they show signs of illegitimacy, you could refuse them and take steps to protect yourself and verify the debt.
What can I do next?
If you feel unsafe dealing with the debt collector, ask for the details of who you can contact regarding the debt. You could also ask for additional information, including notices about it. Likewise, you could call the original creditor and inquire if the collector works for them.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collectors must follow proper conduct when contacting for payments. You could file a complaint to the relevant authorities if you feel they crossed the line or think they are illegitimate.