Debt collection scams

Debt collection scams

By Karen Stiles. CREATED May 28, 2013

MILWAUKEE - Have you gotten a strange phone call or bill for a debt that you do not believe you owe?

Watch out.  You could be targeted by a debt collection scam.

What kind of complaints are you getting about these scams?

Consumers are telling us that they are getting confusing and aggressive phone calls or bills for things like outstanding medical parking, phone bills, or other debts that do not make sense.  

Some of these are also for old debts that should have been settled years ago.

How do you know if the call is legitimate?

Be particularly careful if the caller is verbally abusive, threatens serious legal action like going to jail, or if they ask you for personal information over the phone. 

Ask the caller for their name, their company's name, street addresss and phone number.

If they refuse to provide it, watch out.

This is a good indication that it could be a scam.

Tell them that you do not want them calling, and that they need to send written proof of the debt.

But, before you pay up, check things out with a legitimate source.

Scammers have also been sending phony bills.

If the calls persist, what can you do?

Hang up, screen calls with an answering machine, and file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, and other consumer agencies so that they can take action or warn others to steer clear of these scams.