Have you received a call informing you that you haven't paid a debt? The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is warning consumers in the state to be careful of a scam involving fake debt collection.
In the scam, a caller posing as a "legitimate debt collector" tells you that you owe money on a current or old debt you may not remember and then threatens your arrest if you don't pay up, the business bureau said in a news release. The scammer often uses an aggressive and intimidating tone and may seem convincing, according to the business bureau.
Since 2014, "phantom debt collecting" has become the second highest "complained-about problem" consumers have reported, the bureau said. The first is identity theft, which can also become an issue with the phone scams.
The callers may have some of your personal information like the last four digits of your Social Security number, but that doesn't mean they are legitimate, the bureau said.
Some people targeted have paid because they are scared or want the calls to cease, sometimes forking over as much as "hundreds or thousands of dollars," the bureau said.
Debt collectors are not allowed to call between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. unless you gave them authorization to call you because of the Fair Debt Collection Practices, according to the bureau. If you send them a desist letter, they are also required to stop calling, the bureau said.
How can you avoid becoming a victim to the phantom debt collecting scam? The Better Business Bureau has these tips:
- Make sure you get the caller's name, company address and phone number and tell them you'll need a validation notice to prove the debt they are calling about before you'll talk to them further.
- Avoid confirming or denying personal information like the last four digits of your social, bank account number and birth date. You don't have to answer and can hang up.
- Call the company you supposedly owe money to to confirm you actually have an outstanding debt.
- You can report the scam calls to the Connecticut Department of Banking and the Federal Trade Commission. If the company mentioned in the scam call is notable, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.