I get asked all the time by clients and potential clients whether a collection email or call is legitimate. This is an example of a document emailed to a client who wanted to know if this was legitimate or not.
I also have clients ask me whether collection calls threatening a “warrant” unless the client calls back. In those situations the collection caller alleges to be an investigator who is looking into the fraud of the person who borrowed the money and is demanding that the client return the call or a “warrant will be issued”.
These are almost certainly not legitimate. There are a lot of companies who are either running a scam or they are collection agencies that are not licensed, have no business address and are not complying with collection laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. These types of companies often operate in other countries like Pakistan or Africa. They use untraceable cell phones, multiple 800 numbers and false names.
Some things to look at to determine if the collection call is legitimate:
- If the document on the surface appears to be from a government agency such as the one above, but it was not served by a real person, it is not legitimate. If our governments, local, state or federal, wanted to sue you or arrest you, they would not send an email or a letter.
- Does the email or call indicate that if you make a payment it will all go away? It is actually unethical to threaten criminal arrests to settle a civil matter such as owing a debt.
- Does the phone call or message have intermittent automated numbers or names that cut in and out of the message? This indicates it is a scam.
- Does the document or phone call want your social security number? If this is the government or a legitimate creditor, they already have that information and you should never give your entire social security number to anyone on the phone or in an email.
- Does the call require immediate action, such as making payment to the caller, to avoid a “warrant”? Our government agencies in the United States would never require you to give them sensitive information such as bank account numbers over the phone, this is an indication it is a scam.
- Lastly, put the information in a google search and see what comes up. For instance in the one above I put in “Alfred Robinson Payday Loan” and there were all kinds of people who had also received this and confirmed it was a scam.
If you believe you have been solicited for a scam you should file a complaint with your state agencies.
In Tennessee, that would be the Department of Commerce and Insurance, 500 James Robertson Pkwy, Nashville, TN 37243-0565, Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-342-8385.
In Alabama, that would be Consumer Protection Section, P.O. Box 300152, Montgomery, AL 36130. Website www.ago.state.al.us or call 800-392-5658.
In Mississippi, that would be MS Attorney General’s Office, Walter Sillers Building, 550 High Street, Ste 1200, Jackson, MS 39201. Website www.ago.state.ms.us or call 800-281-4418.
Contact an Attorney for Help
If you believe you have a legitimate debt and a legitimate collection agency is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, call your nearest Bond & Botes, P.C. office for a free consultation.
For more information on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act see these other links:
- Collection Harassment
- Are You Being Sued or Harassed by a Debt Buyer?
- Debt Collectors MUST Follow the Law
- Fight Back Against Abusive Debt Collectors
Cynthia T. Lawson is the Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices location in Knoxville, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor of Science from East Tennessee State University, and a Juris Doctorate from University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She currently serves as a Mentor for the Moment in bankruptcy.Read her full bio here.