Phantom debt is second only to identity theft in terms of financial fright facing Americans today. According to the Federal Trade Commission, millions of dollars have been doled out to fraudulent collectors by those who believe they are paying off past debts. When faced with a possible phantom debt situation, there are important steps you should take to determine if the debt is legitimate or just a scam.
How it works
Though everyone is at risk of becoming a phantom debt victim, senior citizens are being targeted in particular. Phantom debt collectors will often attempt to appeal to the emotional side of their victims by either making them feel guilty and pressuring them to pay back immediately the money they apparently owe. They may also make threats, such as proclaiming that a close relative will lose his job or affect his credit standings if the debt is not paid. Many of these fake collectors will even go as far as to pose as healthcare enrollment agencies. While there are those who do not fall for these tactics, there are also many who often times just give in and pay the debt so that the calls stop coming.
How to tell
Luckily, there are a few telltale signs that can alert you if a pestering collector is attempting a phantom debt scam. These collectors will not give you contact information, such as their address or phone number. They will also use threatening language and attempt to bully you into paying your debts, which are tactics that legitimate collectors are forbidden from using.
What to do
If you don’t recognize the debt that you are being instructed to pay, you should ask for contact information from the collector, and then investigate the situation further. After the call, it is best to contact your loan collector and/or the Federal Trade Commission directly to inquire about the debt in question. It is vital that you give no information to the debt collector, since that will only further their process of acquiring funds for a nonexistent debt. You should also inform the potential scammer that you will not discuss the debt in question until you receive an official written validation notice.
If you have questions about phantom debt, or want to speak about a legitimate debt, Graham Legal would love to meet. If your debt has caused you to become involved in foreclosure, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation with a prominent and qualified Miami foreclosure attorney today.