Tax season is the time of year when debt collection scams peak and countless individuals are duped out of their hard-earned money. While phony debt collectors are nothing new, this year seems to be particularly troublesome with scams hitting unprecedented numbers. Since 2017 phony collection calls have increased by 1,218 percent with callers who claim to be the IRS threatening any innocent person who happens to answer.
How can you know if a debt collector is legitimate?
Ask for the caller's information
The law requires that a creditor identifies him or herself and gives you information regarding the debt. In addition to requesting their name, you should request the amount of the balance that they claim you owe. You can also request a validation notice that details how much the debt is. If they do not contact you within five days of your request they are breaking the law and likely a phony collector.
Verify their license
Florida law requires all collection agencies to be licensed. If you have doubts that a caller is legitimate, you can request their license number and verify it with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. As with a validation notice, if the caller does not provide a license number they can be in violation of the law.
Identifying a phony creditor from the onset may be able to help you from falling prey to a scam. Lawful debt collectors will give you the information that you need so that they can collect the debt as quickly as possible. If you suspect that something isn't right with a debt collector, it may be a good idea to do your research before handing over your cash.