Receiving a telephone call from a debt collector is not a pleasant experience. I have written many times in the past about scammers who use deceptive and abusive collections practices in attempting to collect debts. These scammers violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by making threatening and verbally abusive phone calls, contacting third parties about debts and threatening legal action.
Recently the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the New York Attorney General settled its claims against Vantage Point, a company that operated an illegal debt collection business. The FTC is now refunding money to the victims of the scam.
Vantage Point engaged in a variety of illegal tactics including threatening people with arrest and imprisonment (you can’t be imprisoned for failing to pay a debt), lying about threatened legal actions and falsely telling their victims that they were calling from law offices or government agencies.
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. 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.
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