Debt collectors are in the business of collecting on your debts. Debt collectors have to employ pressure tactics to get people to make their payments so they can close their account and be paid for their time and their services.
While the majority of collectors collect unpaid accounts in a morally responsible way, there are fishy techniques that some of these companies use to get people to pay up, and to pay up now. In fact, some are not actually run by legit companies.
Fake collection agencies are far more common than you might think.
- Fake Collector Or Real Issue?
- Detect The Scam: Things A Legit Agency Will Never Do
- A Fake Debt Call Example
- How To Verify Real Collectors And Expose Scammers
- Avoid Collection Agency Fraud
- Wrapping It Up
Fake Collector Or Real Issue?
It’s too easy to impersonate a high position. The moment you get that phone call, anybody could get fearful and defensive. Who would want to argue with such an “official collector“?
In the United States, the IRS cannot ask for money on the spot. Neither will they call you when out of the blue. They may call you after sending you an official mail notice or by being in contact for months via mail.
Collection agency scams try to scare victims about debt, so they obediently give them their money. In this confidence trick, the fraudster disguises as an employee.
What happens if you don’t do what they say? There’s no guarantee their threats are real. But if you don’t follow their game, they will threaten you with even higher penalties. Better to pay up?
According to law XYZ, you need to pay $X today to cover all your outstanding financial issues. If you don’t, you must provide your credentials, so we can contact you and solve the problem. If you pay this week, we will forgive 20% of your debt.
That sounds like a good deal, no?
Impersonation scams are common. Keep in mind that if the first point of contact was through telephone or via an online method, it’s probably a scammer.
TIP: Ask them to identify themselves and the bureau they are working for. Then hang up and find their official website and contact them back through a phone number that you obtained on that website. And verify if there is really something wrong through this official channel.
Detect The Scam: Things A Legit Agency Will Never Do
If a fake collector calls you, it wouldn’t surprise us if you fell for it. Statistics show at least eight of every ten Americans are in debt. Even if you never got a collector’s call before, most people would expect it. Scammers have a high chance of contacting the right victim.
But there are six things a real collecting agency won’t ever do, no matter how much you owe.
According to the IRS themselves, online messaging is unreliable for tax collection. They may use it but only as a follow-up method.
The official procedure is mail communication. Long after they inform you, they may phone call if you didn’t reach back to them.
Any collection agency reaching out via email or phone is a fraud.
Urgent Warning Tone
Yes, tax collectors want you to pay as soon as possible. Possibly today. But they can’t force you to do it.
Fraudulent agencies request payment the same day they call you. They make sure the idea of not doing it today scares you enough.
Collection agencies shouldn’t be that aggressive with their clients. They know you weren’t expecting the call. What makes them think you have the money ready at that moment?
There are months since you get the collector’s notice until the deposit. Not a few minutes on the phone.
They certainly won’t reward you for delaying payments. But they neither can force consequences when you don’t pay.
A responsible taxpayer knows that not paying is an expensive mistake. In the call, however, the fraudster tries to scare you with future problems, not inform.
It may not be good to avoid taxes, but it’s neither correct to threaten taxpayers. The moment it happens, the collector has no credibility. Harassment is illegal: real agencies won’t do it.
It doesn’t matter if they mention the police, the IRS, or the court. Collectors can’t use other institutions to force a response.
Legit collectors call at convenient times to merely inform, not chase the taxpayer. A scammer won’t respect business hours, so they can call you on any day of the week at, say, 7 PM.
Agencies could call a few times a week, never too often. If the frequency is abusive, you consider it harassment.
No Collector ID
You feel abused by this collector, who is constantly after you. He calls every day and doesn’t let you breathe. Ironically, you don’t know who this person is.
When authorities reach out, they start by introducing their position and verify it. They can show an emblem, give you a phone number, or show their credentials and ID.
A scammer reaches out with a vague description. “We’re the IRS” or the “National Taxation Office.” Where’s the identification? Nowhere.
Another catch is the way they talk about the problem. They won’t let you breathe, not ask a single question. You’re the criminal who must give them answers.
When you suspect, it’s your right to verify them. Ask for credentials and phone numbers to verify them. Don’t listen until you can verify them.
Restricted Payment Method
Collectors want your money no matter how you pay. Although they recommend specific methods, they don’t impose them as long as you pay.
How about fraudulent agencies? They do the opposite. You won’t “cover your debt” until you pay using their instructions. Typically, it’s any method with no refund policies.
As a fun test you can ask them if they accept Western Union. This method of payment is one of the scammers favorite as it can be abused fairly easily. No real agency will accept it and if they do, you know they are pretenders.
A Fake Debt Call Example
One of the most common collection scams is for the creditor to actually tell you that they are going to take you to court or have you arrested if you do not make a payment.
A creditor can call you and ask for payment, but under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act a creditor is never allowed to threaten or take you to court, to sue you, or have you arrested.
If someone does use this scare tactic refuse to deal with them. Let them know that you know what the laws are. Here is an example:
How To Verify Real Collectors And Expose Scammers
What if a fake collector has been calling you this whole time? If you ever get on a call like that, ask identification questions.
- What is the name, address, and phone number of the company you’re calling from?
- What is the name and address of the debtor you’re trying to reach?
- What are the last four digits of the debtor’s Social Security number?
Get their credentials before getting into the topic. Some agencies have toll-free employee verification phone numbers.
Avoid Collection Agency Fraud
A common collection scam happens when a company buys old debts from a bank or creditor for the sole purpose of committing debt fraud. The company then looks someone up, calls them, and then starts demanding payment.
If someone calls you and cannot verify your personal information for you, you should assume it is a scam. Remember not to offer your information to them, but to have them give it to you and also verify where the original debt came from and if they are authorized to claim that debt.
Know that different imposters may try and reach out to you. If they have your contact number, they may call your friends or family for the same issue. How do you stop them from calling again?
Block the Contact
Once you know the collector is fraudulent, remove the contact. You can block the number on the phone. If it’s an email, mark it as spam to avoid showing future messages.
You don’t need to follow instructions if you don’t know who is messaging you. Interrogate the collector before they interrogate you. They are reaching out without you expecting it. They owe you an explanation!
Verify and Verify Again
What if a real collector is contacting you? If you get a notice about pending debt, it’s good to be ready. Organize the documents and prepare the funds — just don’t hurry to provide them.
If a matter needs your attention, you’ll hear about it. Many times. A scammer who wants you to pay today may not follow up if you reject it. But a real institution will explain the case and go after it until they contact you.
Don’t Ignore Regular Mail
Have you received collection notices before? If they reach out to you for the first time online, it’s the sign of a scam. Any message you get usually refers to the original letter they sent you.
Avoid complications and follow the official format only: mail. Scammers can reach via mail as well, but it does not happen as often.
Wrapping It Up
Remember that most collectors who are calling you are not trying to scam you, they are simply trying to do their job. Unfortunately for you though, their job is to get their money back from you and this isn’t always a pleasant experience, especially when you don’t have the money to pay.
Just remember that you can’t get blood from a stone, and if you can’t make a payment you don’t need to give in to pressure tactics. Remember that under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that you have rights too.
If a case is urgent, you’ll find evidence. Verify everything before trusting a collection agency.
You can report debt imposters fraud here: