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Is that caller a debt collector or a scammer?

Posted: 8:48 PM, Mar 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-28 00:44:33Z

From unknown phone numbers to the demands for money, it's easy to confuse a debt collection call with a scammer trying to take advantage.

ABC15 viewer Jason let me know his mom is having a hard time telling the difference after getting calls from a collections company, that she says refuses to answer their questions.

He writes, "they never leave a message" and "we never got a written validation from them."  
Jason wants to know "are they true or a scam medical debt collector?"

By law, consumers are entitled to a validation notice within five days of contact.

Unfortunately, there's really no one to enforce that rule. So here's how you check them out:

First, find out exactly who they are. Get the company's name, address, phone number, email--everything.

Go directly to the company they say you owe. They should have a record of how much the debt is, what it is for and whether or not you are really in collections.

Get a copy of credit reports. Check to see if the creditor is listed. 

You can get all three for free from annualcreditreport.com .

If it's on there, call the company number listed on the report to verify the collection agency.

It you can't find the debt using these tools the debt has likely already been paid off or it doesn't really exist. 

Remember you have protections against legitimate collection agencies:

-No collector can contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. 
-They can't threaten arrest 
-They have to stop calling once you ask them in writing.

Still having problems? File a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office and let me know.