Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Assume collectors are scams

A friend of mine recently received a collection call. It sounded legit, they had a balance owed, a name, to what company the debt was owed, etc. But during their entire conversation, the collector refused to answer where she was calling from, what their phone number was, or who they were.

Is this common? They wanted her to make a payment over the phone, but refused to tell her who they were or how to contact them. The first thing I thought was: scam. But in reality, she did owe this debt and needed to pay it. Obviously these collection agencies are just running loose without any regulation (at least, enforced regulation) and doing anything they please. What right minded individual would just give bank account information to a random caller?

"Yes, unidentified telephone voice, here's my bank account number, I trust you not to empty my accounts or steal my identity."

Yeah, right. If you ever get a collection call, immediately ask their phone number and name of their company, and a case reference number. Try to get their address if you can, but by then they will probably be calling you names and threatening to take your dog. Then immediately hang up and MAIL by certified letter a demand not to communicate by phone and only by mail, with a demand to see all of the documentation related to the debt. The same day, pull your credit report and check to see if it is there. It may not be on there yet.

If you can't get any information out of the collector, and its not on your credit report, it could possibly be a scam. If it is legit, the collection agency contact information will be listed on your report. You should always get a number and a case reference, verify the validity of the agency, and call them back. Better yet, you should always do all correspondence by certified mail, otherwise you will not have a paper trail to verify any "negotiations" that you made with the agency. You can safely assume any collector is lying, and you need to protect yourself. The only time you should give financial or personal information out is when you initiate the communication.

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