Zombie Collectors: One of the Latest Scams in America

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Zombie Collectors: One of the Latest Scams in America

Zombie Collectors

Every time a new scam makes the rounds it makes it hard not to lose a little faith in humanity. Most of the time they aren’t necessarily a new scam but rather an updated take on an old tried-and-true classic. With so much of our lives out in the ether of the Internet and iClouds, hackers are accessing secure and personal information on consumers all the time. Enter Zombie Debt Collectors, sometimes knows as Phantom Debt Collectors. These bottom-of-the-barrel lowlifes are preying on unsuspecting people by counting on fear to make a quick, illegal profit.

They’re called ‘zombie’ or ‘phantom’ debt collectors because they try to collect money on debts that don’t exist. The debts are either made up, paid off a long time ago, discharged, or even forgiven by the original debtor. But when the scammers have gathered enough personal information about a person they use that information to build fear. If a scammer calls saying you owe a debt and starts listing your social security number, your date of birth, your bank account number, your address, and other private aspects of your life, a potential victim is more inclined to believe the collection is valid.

After they’ve used your personal information to stir doubt and break down your confidence, they start threatening different forms of legal action to instill the sense of urgency. The victim feels if they don’t pay the debt – or at least some portion of it immediately – they will start to see legal ramifications. These are intimidation tactics used in the hopes that repeated callings will increase your fear enough to pay money to end the harassment.

These scammers like to single out low-income people who have sued or applied for payday loans. Those individuals already in financial distress are more vulnerable to these types of scams. In instances such as these the scammers aren’t looking for big paydays, but just a couple hundred bucks where they can get it.

When it comes to any debt collector they have to tell you their company name, address, and phone number so you can verify the claim is legitimate. If the person on the other end of the phone is threatening you with legal action or litigation right at the start, you should be very, very suspicious.

Here’s the thing: Even if you do owe money it doesn’t give debt collectors the right to resort to disgusting tactics to get a payment. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when dealing with debt collectors:

  • Debt Collectors cannot call whenever they want. They can’t before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm unless given permission, according to the FTC. They also can’t call a person’s place of work if they are told not to.
  • Debt Collectors can’t pretend to be someone else. They have to disclose who they are and send written details on who and how much money is owed. They must also inform consumers how to verify or dispute a debt.
  • Debt Collectors can’t call once they’re told not to. Collectors can call, text, email or write about a debt. BUT, once a consumer has sent a letter to the company saying not to make contact, they have to stop. Make a copy of the letter and send it certified mail with a return receipt to prove it was sent.
  • Debt Collectors can’t blab about your debts. Collectors can call friends, family, and neighbors to get your contact information, but they are not allowed to mention the debt.
  • Debt Collectors can’t just start garnishing your wages. Devious scammers will often make big threats to scare you, including things like taking the money out of your paycheck. Collectors can eventually garnish wages, but they would have to sue the borrower, win a judgment, and get another order allowing the action.

Scammers prey on your fear, insecurity, and lack of knowledge. The less you know about how debts are allowed to be collected, the more susceptible you are to fall victim to a well-rehearsed and seasoned scammer. The best way to combat fear is to be as informed and educated as you can. Debt Free America is here to help you gain all of that information and stay one step ahead of those who would take advantage of you.

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