Bogus Bill Collectors – Have You Been Called?

24 Aug Bogus Bill Collectors – Have You Been Called?

Yesterday, I opened up my email account to find a email from a debt collector who snarled at me that I had failed to pay for items ordered through paypal and demanded immediate payment as the debt had now been assigned to collection.   It looked pretty legitimate, the email had the required language about how “this is an attempt to collect a debt” and so forth.  But, no original creditor was listed.  The amount was small.   I knew I didn’t owe them any money so I certainly wasn’t going to pay them any  money, or even respond to the email.  And I started wondering….how much money has this outfit managed to scare out of folks?

A recent article on MSNBCcom notes that bogus debt collectors are on the rise.  Bogus debt collectors frequently violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by threatening arrest, prosecution, or garnishment on debts.   These threats must be successful as the stories of debt collectors calling or billing on these non-existent accounts increase every day.   Even my non-computer savvy 73-year-old mother recently got a bill from a debt collector which stated it was collecting on a debt from her deceased husband’s illness.   Only problem was, is that her husband died 9 years ago and never was treated in the state where the original medical provider operated.   

The MSNBC article provided good direction:

1.  Ask that the debt be verified, in writing.

2.  Call the original creditor to verify that the debt (if you do owe a debt) was sent to the debt collector.

3.  Do not give (or verify) any personal information to the debt collector  until you are positive it is a legitimate outfit.

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I'm a consumer protection lawyer in Oregon, working with people in Klamath; Lake; Jackson; Josephine; Curry; and Deschutes County. I speak regularly on bankruptcy and consumer protection issues nationwide.
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