Dealing With Debt Collectors Can Be Frightening, Overwhelming: Here's How To Avoid Scams

CT Attorney General George Jepsen and state Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin are alerting consumers about misleading scam debt collection practices and what they can do to protect themselves.


This information was provided by the CT Office of the Attorney General:

Attorney General George Jepsen and state Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin are alerting consumers about misleading scam debt collection practices and what they can do to protect themselves.

This alert is intended to help consumers detect and avoid debt-collection scams because dealing with debts and debt-collectors can be frightening and overwhelming.

“Scammers may claim to be from law firms, government agencies, or even law enforcement agencies and threaten to arrest consumers if they don't pay,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “The law prohibits legitimate debt collectors from such practices.”

Commissioner Pitkin noted that “Consumers may fall prey to these calls because they may be frightened by the scammers who often have accurate personal information about the consumers they target. They may demand payment, but refuse to send consumers any written proof that the debts are legitimate. Federal and state law requires a debt collector to send proof of a debt.”

The Attorney General and Commissioner Pitkin offer the following suggestions to consumers who receive intimidating calls:

  • First, check your records to determine whether you owe the debt. If you have no record of the debt, do not make a payment or follow the caller’s instructions until you receive proof of the debt.
  • If you have provided banking information to the caller, alert your bank that your account may have been compromised. Also, consider putting a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit reports through the three credit reporting agencies.
  • Do not confirm or provide additional personal information to a caller until you verify with the Department of Banking that the debt collector is licensed to operate in Connecticut. If the caller is licensed, report any abusive behavior.
  • Do not be intimidated into making payments on an unknown debt by a caller who falsely claims to be from a government agency, or who threatens arrest.
  • If you believe you are in physical danger, contact your local police department.
  • Carefully review copies of your credit reports and look for fraudulent activity.

Consumers may check the license of a debt collector, or make a complaint, by contacting the Department of Banking Consumer Affairs Division at 860-240-8170, or toll-free at 1-800-731-8225, or online at www.ct.gov/dob.

For more information about how to handle callers who claim to be debt collectors, see Who’s Calling? That Debt Collector Could Be a Fake on the Federal Trade Commission’s website. For more information about debt collection practices and protections for consumers, see Debt Collection FAQs: A Guide for Consumers.

Consumers who believe they have been a victim of debt collection scam also may contact the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Inquiries, at 860-808-5318, or e-mail attorney.general@ct.gov.

Assistant Attorney General Sandra Arenas-Charles is assisting the Attorney General on this issue with Assistant Attorney General Phillip Rosario, head of the Consumer Protection unit.

Consumer advisories are issued to inform the public of unfair, misleading or deceptive business practices, and to provide information about other issues of concern. The advisories are not legal advice, legal authority or a formal legal opinion by the Attorney General.

Dave Adametz October 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Also, on a side note, be aware that such calls may be from legitimate collections agency attempting to collect on a debt incurred by someone else. Not too long ago I started getting frequent calls from a collections agency claiming to represent Sears department stores, but since I haven't bought anything from Sears in ages I ignored them...but the calls kept coming. So, I called the number they left me to find out what the heck was going on. It turned out that it really was from Sears, and they told me they were trying to collect on my store credit card debt. I told them I hadn't shopped there in ages, so they asked me for my name and address, and when they looked it up it wasn't even what they had on their records. It turns out that someone had filled out a fraudulent credit card application to steal merchandise from them, and they put down a random telephone number on the application that just happened to be mine, so when the criminal disappeared with the merchandise I was my number they were told to call. Once they realized I was an innocent bystander they adjusted their records and that was the last I heard about it. The point is, even though it may be a real collections agency, it may actually be the end result of identity theft and the debt may not actually be yours. As the article says, don't just blindly believe what the other person on the other end of the phone line is telling you.


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