Washington Regulators Seeing Increase in Debt Collection Scams

“Because of the aggressive and abusive tactics used,” DFI Director of Consumer Services Deborah Bortner explains, “otherwise cautious and careful consumers end up falling for the scam and give away their hard-earned money; thus becoming victims.”

Warning signs that the debt may be invalid may include:

  • Caller unwilling to provide written validation of the debt;
  • Caller won’t provide a mailing address;
  • Caller threatens criminal sanctions, violence, or uses profane language or other scare tactics; and
  • Consumer does not recognize the debt.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, deceptive, and unfair collection practices. This includes, but is not limited to, restrictions on what a debt collector can say, such as the use of obscene or profane language, threats of violence or legal action that the debt collector is not legally permitted to take, and false representations. Debt collectors are also restricted as to the time of day they may call consumers, and they can only charge certain authorized fees.

DFI urges consumers to independently verify the validity of any questionable debt and not to send money or provide any personal information such as bank account information, credit card numbers, or their social security number.

Report Violators

  • If you feel you are in immediate danger contact local law enforcement.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of a collection scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), or online at www.ftc.gov.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of a collection scam involving the Internet, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of a collection scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution, and the three major credit bureaus.