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Dealing with collectors while paying off your debts is a tough thing to do. It can be even tougher when you’re distracted by scam artists who trick you into giving them money.
Scammers constantly look for ways to steal from you. In 2014, imposter scams placed third on the Federal Trade Commission’s top 10 list of consumer complaints. Although scammers have no way of knowing who owes money, they try to bilk whomever they can—even harassing people who don’t have debt.
That’s dangerous for people who are emotionally drained from talking to collectors. They can be more susceptible to a con artist’s tricks. You must be vigilant about your money situation, because a scammer’s chance of success drops when you keep your guard up.
Let’s look at some common ways scammers go after you.
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Scammers who call sometimes pretend to work for the police, a law firm or even the Internal Revenue Service. They tell you if you don’t pay the money you owe, they’ll make you miserable by garnishing your paycheck, arresting you or even sending you to jail. USA Today reported that the IRS scam had already generated 550 complaints to the Attorney General’s consumer fraud division this year.
People become scared and buckle faster if they think the law or the IRS is after them. Con artists play off of that fear. If you get an aggressive phone call like this, don’t let the caller rattle you. Legit organizations simply communicate to you about what is going on. They don’t bully or threaten you when they first make contact. Stay calm and know that they can’t fool you with tough talk.
Of course, phones aren’t the only way scammers do their dirty work.
Scammers may send you an email that looks like it’s from your credit card company, a payday loan store or even a law office. The message comes complete with logos and perhaps some of your personal data. It demands you reply with your account information so they can “verify” it or use it to settle a debt. If you don’t respond, they threaten to shut down your account. Again, their goal is to scare you into acting without thinking. That opens the door to getting your cash.
Don’t reply to these emails, call any of their numbers or click any of their links. Any company with which you do business already has your information, so they don’t need to ask for it. Find the company’s phone number on your own and call to report the email. If you receive an email from a place you’ve never used, that’s a giveaway the email is fake.
Snail Mail Scams
One more way scam artists go after you is good old-fashioned snail mail.
Scammers who send a letter to your mailbox, much like an email, will try to make the note look official—in this case it may have a letterhead, seal or even a signature. The tactic is the same—pay money or face consequences. The signed letter helps sell the idea that the threat is real. They have put it in writing after all, right?
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Treat this type of letter just like a phone or email scam. Don’t give any money or information to the people who send it.
Being vigilant is the most powerful weapon you have against con artists. Stay on top of your money situation and keep an eye out for scams. If you get a suspicious email, letter or phone call, don’t be intimidated. Find the phone number for the actual person or party with whom you want to speak. Call to tell them what’s going on and get your questions answered.
That way, you’ll become a pro at avoiding the cons.
Related: The Hidden Truth - What Collectors Can (And Can't) Do
Stay tuned for our next article to learn about the top questions you can ask to spot a scam artist.
If a collector has been harassing you or trying to collect a debt from you that you do not owe, visit CollectionBully.com and tell us about it. A CollectionBully.com law firm will evaluate your case for FREE. If they determine you have a case, they will help you fight the collectors at no cost to you.