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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.