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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beware Of Debt Collection Scams

Since the beginning of last year, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received more than 100 complaints from consumers reporting being contacted by a purported collection company or debt collector attempting to collect on a non-existent debt.

In some cases, the caller has had personal information about the consumer such as name, address, date of birth, and even social security number.

Consumers should be on high alert when receiving a collection call about a debt if the consumer has any question about the validity of the debt.

Scam collectors have claimed to be from law offices, the FBI, and other law enforcement and governmental agencies.

Warning signs that the debt may be invalid may include:
  • Caller unwilling to provide written validation of the debt;
  • won’t provide a mailing address;
  • threatens criminal sanctions, violence, or uses profane language or other scare tactics; and
  • does not recognize the debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, deceptive, and unfair collection practices. This includes, but is not limited to, restrictions on what a debt collector can say, such as the use of obscene or profane language, threats of violence or legal action that the debt collector is not legally permitted to take, and false representations.

Debt collectors are also restricted as to the time of day they may call consumers, and they can only charge certain authorized fees.

DFI urges consumers to independently verify the validity of any questionable debt and not to send money or provide any personal information such as bank account information, credit card numbers, or their social security number.

Report Violators

If you feel you have been the victim of a collection scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), or online at