The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a “relentless scandal” involving fake debt collection calls.
Phantom debt collecting is a significant problem, said the BBB. According to federal statistics from 2014, phony debt collection harassment ranked the second most complained-about problem reported by consumers after identity theft. If you’re not careful, ID theft can be one of the consequences of interacting with a debt scammer.
The callers pose as legitimate debt collectors and may even have a few tidbits of personal information, such as the last four digits of your Social Security number. That does not mean it is a legitimate call and the caller may ask for more personal or financial information as part of their collection process.
Unfortunately, some victims will pay out of fear – even if they believe they paid the debt – just to stop the harassing calls. In some cases these payments can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The BBB Alert does a great job informing consumers on how to differentiate between legitimate debt collection calls and fake calls from scammers:
- Ask for the caller’s name, company street address and telephone number, and say you have nothing else to discuss until you receive a Validation Notice which is proof of the debt and the name of the creditor and amount owed.
- Don’t confirm any information – The caller may ask you to verify the last four digits of your SSN or ask for banking, date of birth and other information. Don’t confirm or deny. Just put down the telephone.
- Call the creditor – The debt may be legitimate, but if you think the collector is rogue or a criminal, let the company that you owe money to know about it.