Over the years, consumer and government agencies have issued warnings about debt collection scams known as debt tagging. In particular, they target consumers with credit card debt or a history of payday loan use.
Sometimes the debts are real. Often, however, they are old or non-existent. The consumer involved typically has a common sir name such as Smith, Jones, or Johnson. The callers sometimes know personal information, even your Social Security number. Moreover, they are tireless in their pursuit of your money.
They are intimidating and ruthless as they make hundreds of calls to track down anyone who might be “confused, scared, or unsure about unpaid bills.”
Though the scams may be U.S.-based, too often international fraud rings run them. And they are usually perpetrated on people with below-average credit because they are more likely to pay to avoid credit trouble.
How to protect yourself from debt tagging
What should you do if you are hounded by someone claiming to be a debt collector? According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB):
- Know your rights. Debtor’s prison no longer exits. You won’t go to jail for debt.
- Don’t provide or confirm personal information to anyone over the phone. This includes bank account, credit card, or other personal information.
- Insist the caller provide official written proof of the debt by mail.
- Get contact information including the name of the collector, company name, address, phone, and email.
You have rights. Debt collectors cannot harass, oppress, threaten, or abuse you. They cannot tell anyone else about the outstanding debt – not your employer, not your family, no one.
If you have problems with a debt collector or you suspect a scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the BBB. And if you have difficulty repaying your unsecured credit card debt, maybe now is the time to look into debt settlement.