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 constitutes fraud. In 2019 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled a complaint that it had brought against the operators of several phony debt collection services using names such as GAFS Group, Global Mediation Group and Mediation Services and now the FTC is sending money to the victims of the scam by either a PayPal payment or a check in the mail.

These scammers used false claims and threats to compel people to pay debts which were largely either non-existent or which the defendants had no authority to collect. They also violated federal law by illegally failing to provide proper notices and disclaimers also required by federal law.

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. The law also prohibits debt collectors from communicating information about a debt to the consumer’s employer although they can contact the employer merely to obtain contact information about the employee

It can be difficult to know when someone calls attempting to collect a debt if indeed they are legitimate or not, so the 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.  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.

For more information about the GAFS refunds, you can call the refund administrator at 866-948-2713

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