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One of the most annoying and sometimes frightening phone calls that a person can get is one from a person trying to collect on a debt. Recently in Florida, a group of people, each pretending to be a debt collector, was issued a restraining order after making phone calls pretending to be attorneys. During those calls, these collectors threatened the party on the other end of the line with prison time and lawsuits if they did not pay. They collected close to $700,000 before they were discovered.

There are a few red flags for which the people on the receiving end of these types of calls can look. First of all, a debt collector should never threaten the consumer with jail time. If that happens, the person should hang up the phone and call an attorney or the Federal Trade Commission. Threatening to put a consumer in jail over a debt is against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Another important step to take when receiving this type of phone call is to ask for written proof of the debt. The consumer should tell the caller that he or she wants a written validation notice with the name of the creditor, the amount that is owed, and the consumer’s rights under the FDCPA. The consumer should not answer any questions or give any information that could be used to steal his or her identity.

The caller should also be asked to provide the company name, street address, telephone number, and their own name. A consumer should not pay anything if the caller refuses to give him or her all of this information. Even if the debt is legitimate, the caller may be a fake collector.

If anyone in Florida is being harassed by a debt collector, he or she might decide to contact a bankruptcy lawyer. This attorney can contact the FTC on the consumer’s behalf, and help put an end to the harassment. The bankruptcy attorney can also instruct the consumer in ways that he or she can manage their debt, stop collections, and even stop foreclosure on his or her home.

Source: palmbeachpost.com, “Fake debt collectors: Fla. crackdown highlights 3 ways to detect them“, Charler Elmore, July 18, 2017