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Debt Collection and Identity Theft

In this digital age everyone is a target for identity theft. There are many debt collection companies out there who are trying to collect real debts. There are also a whole lot of identity thieves and scammers who are just trying to steal banking information. Not every identity thief can be easily detected but here are some methods to look for red flags. None of these are sure-fire ways to detect an identify thief but these are ways to identify some of the most obvious ones.

  1. Ask them who they are : Ask the name of the person you are speaking with, the company they represent and who they claim to be collecting money on behalf of. If the person refuses to tell you, it may be a scam.
  2. Ask them where they are : There are many debt collection companies and the legitimate ones usually won't hide where they are located. The scammers and con artists often won't want to tell you where they are located. They may give you a post office box to mail a check to, ask them where their office is physically located, ask them where they are right now.
  3. Google is your friend : Google the name of the company. Not everything you find online is necessarily true, but a little web research can tell you a whole lot about who you are dealing with.
  4. Google Maps is also your friend : Look up their physical address on Google Maps. Does their address exist? If the address does not exist, it may be a scam. Does the address look like it is a home and not an office? It may be a scam. If the address is real it does not mean that the company is legitimate, but it is more likely legitimate if it is not in someone's house.
  5. Are they lawyers? Debt collectors do not have to be lawyers. Many debt collection companies have names like "Associates" or "Law" in their name and are not actually law firms. Ask them if they are a law firm. If the name of their company sounds like it is a law office but it turns out they are not, it may be a scam. Most legitimate debt collection companies don't have fake law-firm names, though a handful do.
  6. Who are their lawyers? If they claim they are a law firm, ask who their lawyers are or look them up online. The State of Florida maintains a registry of every lawyer licensed to practice in the state, search here: http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/MESearchDK?openform
  7. Hire a lawyer! There are many, many ways to tell if a company is trying to scam you or actually trying to collect on a debt. The best way to find out if you are dealing with a legitimate debt collection company or con artists is by contacting an attorney and asking for their help.

This document has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any legal issues related to the matters discussed in this article as the applicability of state, local and federal laws may vary.

  • ABC News
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • CBS 4
  • CNN
  • Daily Business Review
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NBC News
  • National Consumer Law Center
  • The New York Times
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo