Having debt and speaking to a collections agency can be an intimidating experience. Add on the fact that spam calls and text messages have run rampant in the last several years, and it becomes even more unnerving. Scammers are getting smarter and more cunning by the day, making it even more challenging and potentially scary to be on the receiving end of a call. Luckily, there are still some telling signs that a collector is not legitimate. Read on to find out what to say when a collector calls and how to determine if you can trust the caller.
How Do I Know If A Debt Collector Is Legit?
Some calls can be easily pinpoint as scams, especially calls from an unknown person or someone you don’t owe money to. Others, however, can be trickier to spot. If you experience one or more of the following, you should be aware that the caller may not be legitimate:
- The caller threatens you or someone you know. Per the Federal Trade Commission, real collections agencies do not threaten you for non-payment, and you cannot be arrested for a debt.
- They claim to represent the Internal Revenue Service and are needing immediate payment. But, according to NerdWallet, the IRS will never demand immediate payment or ask for payment information over the phone.
- The caller is asking for personal information, such as your social security number or credit card information.
- The person on the phone is showing a lot of aggression. Professional collections agencies will speak to you professionally and calmly.
What To Do When A Debt Collector Calls
When a debt collector calls, there are some ways you can protect yourself, whether the call is legitimate or not. When they call, the following are good things to do or say:
- Be honest about whether you can actually afford to pay the debt.
- Keep a record of what you discuss with the collector.
- Let them know if there is a better time to discuss the matter.
- Know your rights and repeat them back to the caller. You can read these on the Fair Debt Collection Act (FDCPA).
- Use a search engine to determine if the agency is legitimate. You can often get a feel for whether an organization is being truthful by learning the experiences of others with that company.
What Not To Do When A Debt Collector Calls
There are quite a few things to not say to a collector or potential collector as well, including the following:
- Disclosing financial information.
- Getting upset or frustrated. Attacking the caller will not solve the problem, regardless of whether they are real or not.
- Sharing other personal information, including employers, social security numbers, addresses, or family and friends’ names and phone numbers.
Report Fake Debt Collectors
When you realize or strongly suspect that the debt collector is acting unlawfully, you should take steps to report the caller and their organization. This is critical to preventing future calls to you and protecting others from potential financial or identity loss. The best way to report an abusive or spam collector is by directly contacting the FTC. They will protect others from the person in the future. To report to the FTC, go to https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/ and give the details of your call or text message from the scammer. The FTC will take the report and work with thousands of law enforcement officials to investigate your report.
Start Paying Your Debt
If you know that the debt is yours, feel confident in the legitimacy of the organization, and are within the statute of limitations for your debt, then you can begin to pay off your debt safely and efficiently. To safely pay your debt, set up a payment plan and ask that your account be deleted at the payment plan’s end. Then, as mentioned previously, write everything down, including payments, when and if you spoke to someone, and what information you gave to the agency. Writing things down may seem like a great deal of work, but it can save you a lot of grief in the event something goes wrong. You are allowed to request copies of documents from the collection agency for your records and certainly should add those to your logs. Once you have completed your payment plan, ask for a letter of completion and check your credit reports. Put these with your logs and maintain these in your personal files.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your debt, MCA is here to help. We are always in alignment with the FDCPA and pride ourselves on professionalism and honesty. Call or email us today to discuss your options and to learn more about our services.