Consumer Guide: Debt Collection Scams


With changing federal regulations and changing collection agent tactics, it is important to know what collection agencies can and cannot do legally and to stay vigilant against debt collection scams.

By law, debt collectors can contact consumers by phone, mail, email, or text message, as long as they identify themselves as debt collectors. They may contact consumers at work unless they are specifically told that the consumer is not allowed to receive calls there. They may also contact others for information about consumers whose debt they are pursuing, but unless they contact your spouse or attorney, the agency cannot contact them more than once. times or discuss your debt with them.

Collection agencies are prohibited from calling between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. and may not engage in harassment, misrepresentation, or unfair practices. Under new rules introduced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last year, collection agencies are limited to seven phone calls per week to consumers, including attempted calls and conversations. They can establish an unlimited number of contacts by SMS, e-mail and private message on social networks; however, they must clearly identify themselves as debt collectors and provide a means of opting out. Notably, debt collection agencies cannot pretend to be someone else, such as a government agency or credit reporting company, and cannot use a fake company name.

BBB recommends that consumers follow these tips to avoid debt collection scams. Ask the debt collector to provide an official “validation notice” of the debt. If you owe money and aren’t sure if the caller is real, ask for their name, company, address, and phone number. If you don’t have any outstanding loans, hang up. Do not press any number and do not speak to an “agent”. Check your credit report. Report unfair transactions with debt collectors.


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