The Better Business Bureau Advises Consumers About Legitimate Debt Collectors vs. Scammers

by Adam J Krohn on October 3, 2013

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has recently issued an alert about the growing number of complaints about scam debt collectors over the past year.  The BBB also advised consumers to learn about how to determine what is a legitimate debt collection effort and what is a scam.  This can be a difficult assessment because some debt collectors are able to convincingly play the part of a legitimate collector.  The likelihood of success is also increased due to the fact that many people have never experienced a debt collection effort.  We do not know what debt collectors can and cannot do, nor do we understand our rights to certify the debt.

According to the BBB, complaints about scam debt collection efforts have grown 18 percent over the past year.  These complaints usually involve consumers claiming that a debt collector is contacting them about a loan that they never took out.  This could be a product of the tough economic times.  Not just because Americans are more in debt due to the economy, but also because more individuals are have lost their jobs and are resorting to illegitimate methods to earn money.

Rather than lumping all complaints about scam debt collectors with complaints about legitimate debt collectors, the BBB has encouraged consumers to learn about how to identify who is a scammer and who is a legitimate debt collector.  This is important because if individuals can learn what debt collectors can and cannot do, as well as independently verify that the debt collectors are legitimate, more individuals will be better protected.  Some indicators that the debt collection attempt is a scam are:

  • Calls that seek payment on debts for loans that the consumer does not recognize.
  • The caller refuses to give their contact information.
  • Persistent requests for personal financial or other sensitive information.
  • Tactics that are high pressure and designed to scare the consumer, such as saying that the consumer could get into legal trouble if they do not pay immediately.

Consumers can be at a higher risk of identity theft when people are calling claiming to be debt collectors.  Therefore, consumers must be cautious when receiving these calls and should never give their personal information out to people they do not know.

The BBB has provided the following tips for dealing with fake debt collectors:

  • Ask the caller to provide their contact information: Ask that the caller provide their name, the name of their company, the street address, and telephone number.  Then the consumer should tell the caller that s/he will not discuss the debt until s/he has received a written “validation notice.”  This written notice will give the amount of the debt and the consumer’s rights under the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act (FDCPA).
  • Stop speaking with the caller: When a consumer is not sure who s/he is speaking to, s/he should never give or confirm sensitive information, including bank accounts, credit cards, or Social Security numbers.  If the caller is a scammer, they could use this information to commit identity theft.
  • The consumer should contact their creditor: If the consumer is in debt but they do not think that the debt collector who is calling is legitimate, s/he should contact their creditor, by using the contact information that is on their personal online account.  Then the creditor will be able to determine who the suspicious caller is and whether they authorized them to collect the debt from you.

Lastly, it is important that consumers Report the Call.  The consumer should not hesitate to contact the BBB, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or their state’s Attorney General’s office.  Illinois has its own debt collection laws, and the state’s offices will be able to help the consumer determine their rights under the state’s laws.

Our experienced attorneys here at Krohn and Moss Consumer Law Center have also provided many helpful resources regarding the FDCPA and how debt collectors should act.  For more information, click here to learn more about this act and how it can help you.
We understand the frustration you may have when dealing with an aggressive debt collector. We have been successfully representing those abused and taken advantage of by debt collectors for years, and have a long list of successful stories to share with you. We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW for you to assess whether we can assist you with your matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us toll free at 1-800-875-3666 if you prefer to talk to a trained professional over the phone instead, or of course, visit our website at

Adam J Krohn
Adam J. Krohn is one of the founding partners of Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® He has been admitted to practice law in Illinois, Missouri.
Adam J Krohn
Adam J Krohn

Previous post:

Next post: