Getting Out of Debt Without Getting Scammed

Monday, November 5, 2018, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Most business organizations turn to third-party companies when it comes to collecting debt from customers.

A credit card issuer, for instance, might work with a debt collection company to make sure that their customers are paying off their accounts.

The problem, however, is that while some debt collectors contact individuals to collect legitimate debt, there are also scammers — those who pose as false agents to try and trick individuals into paying off debt that doesn’t exist.

So, how do you recognize legitimate loan consolidation companies from the fake ones?

Well, here are three ways to do so without being duped out of your money:

  1. You Don’t Recognize the Account or the Company

    Throughout our life, we’ll come into contact with a lot of different businesses and organizations. So, it’s possible that an agent could be contacting you about an account you might have forgotten about. Before answering the phone and giving up your card information just to make them go away, make sure you do some investigating.

    If the agent calling you sounds like they’re from another country and can’t really articulate what’s going on with your debt, there’s a chance it’s a scam. Remember, you should never make payments to a collection agency you don’t recognize.

    You can also check your banking and credit card statements to see if the report includes information about a particular debt collection company. Note that even if you recognize the creditor, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe and out of harm’s way.

    That’s why it’s important to ask for proof. If you are contacted by collections, then you have the right to ask them for proof before you send a payment. What kind of evidence? Proof that they’re authorized to contact you and collect on behalf of the company you might owe money to.

    Whatever you do, don’t let your guard down, since scammers might have access to your information already and use it as leverage to trick you into paying them. Keep in mind too that the IRS never contacts individuals via phone calls or emails. That’s also a common scam.

  2. There is No Sign of Them on the Internet

    Perhaps the easiest way to check if the debt collector contacting you is a real company is by searching for their contact information on the web. If the company is legitimate, then you might see a ton of comments from other users verifying the business’s credibility. But if you look up the phone number the agent is calling you from and don’t find anything, or see comments from users accusing the business of fraud, then avoid giving up any personal information at all costs.

    So, what’s the easiest way to search a company’s number?

    It’s simple: Type in the full phone number (including the area code) into the search bar. If you see hundreds of different numbers appear, then you’ll have to do some investigating. Start with businesses, but if you’re unable find anything there, then look for names.

    Debt collection companies will typically leave their contact information in the voicemail and invite you to give them a call. If you see a familiar name on the web, then chances are, they’re the ones trying to get a hold of you. If, however, you don’t see anything, be careful and proceed with caution if you decide to answer your phone or give them a call back.

    If you’re not comfortable contacting them, you can always block the number, report it as a scam to your phone carrier, or report it as a scam if they’re contacting you via email. When it comes to debt collectors, the more research you do beforehand, the better. That last thing you’d want is your personal information getting into the wrong hands.

  3. The Agent Asks for Information They Should Already Have

    Not every debt collector will try and talk you into sending money to them. That’s because scams (like most things) come in many different forms. When it comes to scamming, individuals aren’t only looking for money, they’re looking for opportunities. This is why many scammers do their best to seek personal information, then use that to commit identity theft and make purchases.

    With this knowledge, it’s important to understand that when companies like banks, hospitals, and other service corporations hire third-party debt collectors, they send over all the necessary information needed to authorize the payment.

    Generally, this information includes things like your name, mailing address, date of birth, Social Security number, and account number. So, if an agent calls you and asks you for this information, be very suspicious and protective of your information.

    Even if the caller has some knowledge of your whereabouts and information about you, still be on alert. With so much information about you available on the web, it’s not hard to gather the information needed to trick you into thinking the caller is real.

Protect Yourself

When it comes to preventing fraudulent behavior, you can never have too much security. People hoping to profit from your mistakes are everywhere, and they can access your important data through something as simple as an unsecured wifi network, a piece of malware on your computer, or a spam call masquerading as a debt collector.

It’s important to always be cautious and watch out for scams, phishing emails, and unsecured home lines. By doing so you can protect your information and prevent your data, and even your identity, from being stolen. Security, in this case, is your main line of defense.

As you move forward to pay off any unwanted debt and restore your credit, it’s important to document everything. This means documenting calls, emails, creditors, and taking a look at credit reports regularly. In the end, these are things that could save you from being another victim.

This article is written By Avery Phillips

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