Receiving a telephone call from a debt collector is not a pleasant experience. Being hounded by someone attempting to collect a debt you do not owe is fraud. I have written many times in the past about scammers who use deceptive and abusive collections practices in attempting to collect non-existent debts. These scammers violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by making threatening and verbally abusive phone calls, contacting third parties about the phony debts, threatening legal action and attempting to collect debts that the defendants knew were not owed. Now in a new variation of this scam being reported by the Better Business Bureau, the phony debt collector who calls you is much more conciliatory. He or she tells you that you owe a debt that is about to go to court, but that you can avoid court by arranging with them to pay the debt in reasonable installments. Again, however, there is no debt owed and the scammer calling you knows that fact.
Subject to strict federal laws, legitimate debt collectors are permitted to call debtors, however, the law prohibits them from threatening imprisonment for the failure to pay a debt and attempting to collect a debt that the debt collector knows is bogus. It can be difficult to know when someone calls attempting to collect a debt if indeed they are legitimate or not, so your best course of action if you receive such a call is to not discuss the debt with the person calling, but instead demand that they send you a written “validation notice” by regular mail which describes the debt they allege you owe and includes a listing of your rights under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Never give personal information over the phone to anyone who calls you attempting to collect a debt. You can never be sure who they are. You also can check your credit report at each of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to see if any debts which you are not aware of appear on your credit reports. If you receive the validation notice and it appears to be legitimate, you may be better off contacting your creditor directly because the person who called you may not be representing the creditor, but may merely have information about the debt.
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