Millions of Americans are in debt and every minute of every day there is a debt collector showing up at someone’s door demanding money and threatening to take away goods if it is not paid.
These debt collectors have a lot of power over your money and your possessions, and that sort of power is like music to a scammer’s ears, which is why debt collector scams are becoming so common.
A debt collector scammer may target you for debts that have never been owed or debts that have already been paid. They are not there legally, no matter how legitimate they appear, and in this guide to debt collector scams we will show you how to spot them so that you can avoid them.
How to Spot a Debt Collector Scammer
To make sure you don’t get illegally separated from your money by an illegal debt collector, keep a look out for the following:
They Ask for an Untraceable Payment Method
If a debt collector is real then they will take a number of payment methods, the most common of which are credit cards and debit cards. A scammer, however, will not. They want methods that can not be traced.
They understand that no one carries around large amounts of cash—although they may still ask—so they will instead request that you pay via a wire transfer or some other method that can not be traced. They may even request that you pay in gift cards, as these have become a very popular payment method for scammers.
You Don’t Recognize the Debt
A debt collector scammer will give you vague details about the debt, hoping that it will spark some recognition and that fear and intimidation will do the rest. They may also refuse to give you further information, saying that they are not allowed, but this is a lie.
A real debt collector will show you details of the debt, including the full amount and the creditor. If they do this and you do not recognize it, then do not pay. If you have multiple debts and are not sure, check with your credit report, as that should contain details of the debt.
It is also important to note that even if you recognize the creditor and have owed money in the past, it doesn’t mean you still owe money now. They may have gotten lucky, they may have hacked your personal data to establish who you have owed money to.
You Don’t Recognize the Company
Ask for the name of the debt collectors and then run a search on Google. You should find information on them if they are a legitimate company. They should also have a phone number that syncs up with the one listed on a legitimate website.
Look for reviews and warnings, things that should pop-up when you Google them, and then make sure that the debt collectors in front of you are actually part of this company and not just claiming to be. You can do this by checking IDs and by contacting the phone number on the website and asking if they really work there.
They Ask for Personal Information
In some cases debt collector scammers are looking to steal your ID as well as your cash so they will mine data from you that they don’t already have. This may include your date of birth, your nationality, your full name, and other basic information that they should already have.
If a debt collector starts asking questions that they should already have the answer to, don’t give them the answers and tell them to leave your premises immediately.
They Are Overly Aggressive
A debt collector who is there legitimately will pressure you into paying and they are within their rights to do so. However, the money they collect is not theirs, they are only doing their job, and this means there is a certain line they will not cross.
A debt collector scammer will put you under unnecessary pressure to get you to pay, they will demand immediate payment and they will make all kinds of threats, including that you will be arrested if you don’t pay.
If you feel threatened, phone the police immediately. Do not tell them that you are contacting the police, just do it. A real debt collector will not care whether you are phoning the police or not, but a scammer will and while many of them will simply flee if they know the police are on their way, others may get violent, which is why it is best to do this without informing them.
They Make Unreasonable Threats
If you are being threatened with jail, if the debt collectors claim to be government officials, or if they say that they will arrest you themselves, then they are lying. Real debt collectors do not have this power, nor would they lie in order to get you to pay the debt, because it is an offense for them to lie.
A scammer will also want to act quickly, because the longer it goes on the more time the victim has to think and to realize they are being scammed. They will also be worried about guests, roommates, and family members entering the home. As a result, their threats will likely get more ridiculous the longer you refuse to pay them.
What You Should do in Debt Collector Scams
If you suspect that you are being scammed and the debt collectors have not barged their way into the house, then simply shut the door and phone the police. If they want to remain at the door making demands then let them. It just means that they have less time to escape and every chance of being caught by the police.
If they are in your house and you are concerned that you are being scammed, ask that they leave. If they refuse, start filming them and contact the police. A legitimate debt collector will not mind if they are being filmed, nor will they care if you are contacting the police. A scammer, on the other hand, will do everything in their power to get you to stop.
If you are concerned for your safety, they are asking for money and they are already in your house, then tell them that you will contact friends who can help you to pay and then invite those friends over. You can also contact the police under the guise of contacting a friend, requesting immediate support because someone has gained unlawful entry into your home.