Dealing with Phony Debt Collection Calls

Recently, several consumers have notified BBB about phone calls from individuals pretending to be debt collectors and threatening legal action or arrest. The consumers are told they must pay an outstanding debt over the phone immediately. In some cases, the callers have either social security numbers, bank information or the consumer’s address. BBB wants you to know what to do if a stranger calls claiming you owe money.

1) Ask questions about the supposed debt. If the caller cannot tell you who he or she works for, the business who hired the company to collect the debt, what the actual debt is from or how much you owe, these are signs the caller may be trying to scam you.

2) Request proof of the debt in writing. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires a debt collector to give you a validation notice within five days of contacting you about a debt. Ask the caller for this and also tell him to stop contacting you. By law, debt collectors have to stop contacting you until they can provide written proof that your debt is real.

3) Never confirm or give out any personal information. Sometimes the purpose of a phony debt collection scam is to steal your identity or your money. Until the caller can send you written proof, never give him your personal information.

4) File complaints with BBB and the FTC. You can file a complaint online at and if you believe a scammer has contacted you to collect a phony debt. Make sure to include all the details so BBB can help spread the word to protect others.

~ Erik