Government and industry officials have reassured consumers that legitimate debt collectors would never threaten a consumer with arrest.
Consumers should be on the lookout for fake debt collection calls from scammers posing as collection attorneys, warns Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
According to a press release, the scammers source publicly available documents about consumers who have filed for bankruptcy. They then “spoof” the Caller ID system to make their phone number appear to be that of an attorney. Once the consumer answers the phone, scammers demand wire payments for nonexistent debts – sometimes threatening the consumer with arrest.
“Under no circumstances would a bankruptcy attorney or a staff member telephone a client and ask for a wire transfer to immediately satisfy a debt,” the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys stated in the press release. “Nor would the bankruptcy attorney and staff ever threaten arrest if a debt isn’t paid.”
Similar scams involving callers pretending to be affiliated with debt collectors have also occurred recently in Nebraska and Ohio, ACA International reported. The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance warned residents of a debt collection scam involving calls to consumers about a past payday loan and threats of possible arrest if they do not make an immediate payment. And in Ohio – where identity theft has been the top form of consumer fraud – identity thieves posing as debt collectors have used consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII) to trick them into paying debts they don’t owe.
Legitimate debt collectors are not consumers’ enemies and are not interested in a debt that is not owed and it is illegal to make such threats as arrest or a lawsuit. By law, the collector must inform you of your right to dispute the debt and request written verification if requested. Once sought, all collection activity stops until this proof is provided.
ACA International’s Ask Doctor Debt website has resources for consumers to better understand debt collection and their rights.