If someone calls to collect payment on a debt you were unaware of, it’s important to ask the following questions to ensure you are not getting scammed.
1.) Basic Information: Whether the collection caller is attempting to collect on a real debt or if it’s a scam, the caller is going to ask you questions. Make sure and ask some of your own. A real collector is going to provide you with the company name, address and phone number. Scammers will likely refuse to give you this information.
2.) Get Confirmation: A genuine debt collector has five days from the first phone call to send you written confirmation of the debt. That confirmation letter should be more than a demand to pay. It should also spell out some of your rights and include information on the collection agency, such as the company name, mailing address and phone number.
3.) Verify that the agency exists: Input the company name and/or phone number into an Internet search engine. Have there been any complaints against them? Confirm that the company is licensed or allowed to work in your state. Some scammers will claim to be from genuine collection firms or attorney’s offices. Contact your state attorney general’s office or department of consumer affairs and verify this- and most importantly, do NOT disclose any personal information to them.
4.) Pull your credit report: Credit reports provide a quick snapshot of your current debts. If someone calls and says you owe money and it is not listed on your credit report, it’s like to be a scam. Consumers should be checking their credit reports at least one a year. You can get each of your three reports free every year at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.
5.) Check your state’s statute of limitations: If the statute of limitations has expired, the collector cannot make you pay. In addition, seven years after you went into default, the debt has to come off your credit report — even if it’s sold to collectors. No matter who owns it or when they bought it, it cannot be listed on your history or used to compute your credit score.
6.) Send for verification of the debt: After you’ve been contacted by a debt collector, you have 30 days to demand proof that it’s a real debt and that it belongs to you. If the debt isn’t an outright con, you want verification. As a return address, consider using a post office box or office address instead of your home address to protect your home address.
7.) Make sure you get real proof: The verification you receive could take many forms. It could be a copy of your contract with the original creditor, a copy of the charge-off statement or an invoice from the original creditor. Or it could simply be information about the debt, such as the original creditor’s name, the account number, charge-off amount and current balance. The collector should also be able to furnish at least the last four digits of your Social Security number.
8.) Determine if it’s yours—and theirs: When you receive the verification information, read it carefully. Check the billing address, the styling of your name, the middle name or initial listed and even designations like “Jr.” or “Sr.” If anything is off, it could be a case of mistaken identity or a scam. You also want to make sure the debt is being handled by the agency that contacted you.
To read more on this story visit: http://money.msn.com/debt-management/is-that-debt-collector-a-scammer-bankrate.aspx.
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of all of your options. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. 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, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.