Think you’re in trouble with a collections agency? It could be a scam.

Who Is It Targeting:  Cold call victims

What Is It:  Fake debt collection scam

What Are They After: This is one of the top-two scams of 2016, according to the BBB, and it’s still causing headaches in 2017. It manifests in a couple of different ways. It might claim to be from a collections agency that’s been “going through their old files and found that you owe money,” it might be from a scammer who claims that an actual loan you’ve taken out has been transferred to their company, or even from a scammer who claims to be collecting on outstanding utility bills. Anything that sounds plausible and gets you to stay on the phone long enough to get worried is fair game here.

Unfortunately, the moment you sound hesitant, the scammers think they’ve got you. That’s when the threats of fines or even arrest can escalate. How will you know it’s a scam? Payment methods. They will ask for immediate payment over the phone, or for an untraceable payment method like a wire transfer or even the purchase of gift cards. If you have any reason to believe the call might be genuine—such as if you do actually have a loan you’ve taken out—get the name of the caller’s company, hang up, and contact them yourself using a number you locate online. Do NOT use the number the caller gives you as it could be a fake phone number routing right back to the scammers.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Never be intimidated by a caller; you are not going to be arrested for failure to pay, and any genuine issue like this will be handled by mail so you have a paper trail.
  • You will never be required to pay an outstanding balance over the phone.
  • You will certainly never be required to pay a genuine debt ONLY with a specific payment method.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from

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