Debt collection scams are an all-too-common occurrence these days as scammers look for ways to take advantage of people already in a bad financial situation. A recent scam has been reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where scammers have been calling residents regarding fake power bills. These callers are threatening to turn off the person’s electricity if they do not immediately pay them over the phone.
Last year, the FTC received a total of 2.7 million complaints with debt collection scams being the largest category of complaints. Not all scams are the same, and some scammers, like the utility ones, are far from sophisticated in their schemes. However, the FTC is reporting that many collections scams have become more advanced. The individuals contacting the callers are using names of real local businesses or are posing as lawyers. Some of their claims are so believable that the person on the receiving end of the call believes they are legitimate.
It is important to always have your guard up. Ask for the name of the business contacting you and do the research before simply paying the debt. Also, be aware of what methods the company is using to make threats. For example, if the company trying to collect upon a debt is saying that they will only accept payment in the form of a prepaid gift card, that is a red flag that the caller is perpetuating a scam. The same goes for a company threatening to have someone arrested for nonpayment. Other legal avenues are available for a company collecting on a payment, and the first option is not to have that person arrested.
When someone gets a call from a potential scam, after asking the name of the company, it is recommended that the caller get off the phone and call the company back by using the phone number accessible via the consumer’s own records. Inform the company that someone has made contact and is demanding payment. That company will want to know whether its name and identity is being used. The company will also be able to verify whether any actual debt collection is being pursued against the caller.
If the person on the other end of the phone is a legitimate third-party debt collector and is still using harassing techniques, the consumer still has rights. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). a consumer is protected from debt collectors who are using unfair, abusive or harassing debt collection practices. Many debt collection agencies resort to scare tactics to get individuals to pay on their bills, but these tactics can become illegal if they cross the line from persuasive to abusive.
If an individual is facing debt collection proceedings, bankruptcy may be a viable option for him or her. After a petition for bankruptcy has been filed, an automatic stay goes into effect which puts an immediate stop to any pending collection proceedings which can give the individual relief from ongoing collections attempts and contact from debt collectors.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.