Attorney General George Jepsen and state Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin alerted 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 said 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.
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 email@example.com.