Fraud Alert: How to Spot Fake Debt Collectors | Portland, Oregon

Fraud Alert: How to Spot Fake Debt Collectors


Debt collectors get most of their revenue from people who fall hopelessly behind on student loans, medical bills, auto loans, credit cards, and home mortgages. Collection agencies are notorious for being threatening, demanding, and relentless in their attempts to extort whatever money you have to pay off your debt. They can be just as pushy in trying to collect debts you don’t owe, yet some individuals nevertheless pay to avoid further contact with the debt collector.

With the help of a debt lawyer, you can swiftly assess whether debt collectors are using unlawful means to recover money. It is especially beneficial if you’ve been harassed or threatened by debt collectors. A debt lawyer can assist you in preparing a case against a debt collector who has breached the law, which can include anything from unlawful contact to making false or threatening remarks. Let Michael O’ Brien & Associates PC help you how to spot fake debt collectors in Portland, Oregon.

How Do These Scams Work?

spot fake debt collectors

An aggressive collection call from the supposed “debt collector” (we will call them “scammer”) will frequently be followed by a legal-looking collection letter threatening legal action if the debt is not paid quickly. The scammer will generally offer to settle for a significantly lower amount than the initial debt, making it look like they are giving the client a great bargain if they pay right away.

You most likely don’t owe this loan at all. Are you doubtful if the debt belongs to you? Some of you will immediately recognize that you do not owe the bill and that this is a fraud. However, for those who aren’t the most organized individuals on the planet, the fact that we misplaced a debt along the way may not seem that absurd. Here are a few red flags to look out for that will help you how to spot fake debt collectors:

  • Is it possible for the debt collector to inform you where the debt originated? It might be a debt you do not owe if they are imprecise and never say who you initially owed.
  • Is there a physical address of the collector for you to send something in writing? There’s a significant probability you’ve been duped if you cannot obtain a written address to contact the collection agency.
  • Is there a record of the debt on your credit report? Otherwise, the debt may not be yours. You should probably get a copy of your credit report if you haven’t already. Every year, you are entitled to three free credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus. Annual Credit Report.com is the safest and most convenient way to get a free copy of your credit report. We can also assist you in interpreting your report.

What Are the Signs a Debt Collection is a Scam?

“Debt collection” and “scam” are often unfairly used in the same sentence. In reality, people fall behind on their obligations from time to time, and someone has to contact debtors to help work out a payment plan that will allow the creditors to recover the money owed to them.

Unfortunately, it is an area rife with scams. Scammers tend to become more daring during economic downturns, such as the one we are currently experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. The indications listed below can assist you in how to spot fake debt collectors.

  • The caller is threatening you. Scammers frequently threaten jail time to get unwary victims to pay. The individual contacting, whether they work directly for the firm you owe money to or for a third-party collector, is not authorized to intimidate you in any manner. It’s a scam if they cite imprisonment, an arrest warrant, or something to that effect.
  • They claim to be from the IRS. As the IRS says on its website, “The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.” Also, be wary if they send you to IRS.gov to confirm that it is indeed them. Scammers are impersonating IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers by utilizing numbers similar to those used by the IRS.
  • The caller won’t answer questions. If you owe money to a firm, the caller should be able to answer any questions you have regarding the debt, the company, and more evidently, who they are. You have the right to get notification by letter in the United States to confirm a debt you owe. So if you’re unclear about the obligation, make sure to ask for written notice. It’s not a genuine deal if they decline. If you don’t recall a debt, the caller may be fabricating it. Of course, it’s conceivable you forgot, but if that’s the case, hang up and double-check.
  • They request personal identifying information. While a professional debt collector may inquire about payment, they will first double-check the information they have on file for you. Account numbers, date of birth, and Social Security numbers are all included. Genuine collection agencies should provide you with information about your account, including the original creditor’s name, the date of service or delinquency, and the address where you may mail your payment if you choose not to pay over the phone.
  • They pressure you. You are pressed to make a choice right away by the caller. Scammers are in a battle against time; the longer they operate a scam, the more likely they are to be detected so they shut down before they are found. Their purpose is to obtain money from you as soon as possible, particularly on the initial call. A genuine debt collector, or even a skilled marketer, will not rush you and allow you time to assess your alternatives.

What to Do When Speaking With Collectors?

When dealing with a debt collector, think before you act. However, if you suspect a caller is attempting to scam you, follow these specific actions.

  • Get information. Begin by obtaining information on the debt collector as well as the debt. Request a letter of verification. Legitimate debt collectors should provide you with this information without delay. Any hesitancy might be an indication of a con artist. Inquire about the caller’s name and employer, as well as the company’s phone number and street location. It’s a red flag if the caller refuses to provide you with this information.
  • Protect your personal information. Don’t give away or confirm the information of your bank account, credit or debit card numbers, or Social Security number, no matter how aggressively a possible debt collector requests. It might expose you to identity theft or allow a fraudster to withdraw funds from your accounts.
  • Contact the original creditor. If you believe a scam debt collector has contacted you for payment on a debt you owe, ask the original creditor if your debt was sold and for the contact information of the collection firm that now controls it.
  • Ignore the calls. One of the most effective strategies to get a fraudster off your back is to ignore frequent phone calls. Don’t hesitate to hang up if you’re being harassed or threatened, and don’t return calls. Scammers are just interested in making a fast buck from an easy victim, so they’re not going to pursue you for long. If you’re dealing with a real debt collector, though, you’ll need to devise a strategy for paying off the amount.
  • File a complaint. If you believe a fraudulent debt collector has approached you, register a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or your state attorney general’s office. Collect all available information and incorporate it in your written complaint.

What Are Your Rights as a Consumer?

When dealing with these scammers, it’s critical to understand your rights as a consumer. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says that:

  • The debt collector must provide you a statement of the total amount owing to the creditor within five days of the initial contact. They must not use incorrect or misleading information regarding the debt. (If you don’t get a letter, it’s possible you’re being scammed.)
  • Debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in unfair techniques, such as collecting more debt than you owe.
  • A debt collector is prohibited from utilizing abusive tactics such as threatening harm or using obscene language.
  • If your rights are infringed, you can file a complaint with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

When Should You Hire a Lawyer?

The first step in resolving debt collection issues is to determine if you can handle the matter independently or whether you need help from a nonprofit credit counseling program. Nonprofit organizations will cover your costs and income while advising you on the best course of action for your scenario.

If your debt troubles have gotten out of hand, or you’re facing legal action, it could be time to contact a bankruptcy attorney like Michael D. O’Brien & Associates, P.C. We suggest making an appointment with us. Give us a call or visit our website to get all your legal support online.

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Whether you're dealing with overwhelming debt, stopping foreclosure or repossession proceedings, or looking for a way to protect your assets, our Portland bankruptcy attorneys are here to help you overcome your financial hurdles!

Please be aware that submission of this no-obligation form does not establish an attorney-client relationship. By filling out the form, you agree to receiving emails from our firm regarding your case evaluation and other helpful resources.