‘Money: It's Personal' — Debt collector scam red flags

SAN ANTONIO – It can be pretty scary to get a call from a debt collector if you're not aware you have an account in collections. While you can't know which collectors are legitimate just by checking your caller ID, there are some red flags to look out for to determine if a scammer is calling.

The first thing you want to do is ask the caller for their name, the name of the company they work for, the company’s address and a professional license number if it's available. Many states require debt collectors to be licensed.

Here are a few red flags the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau says you should look out for to determine if a call is a scam: If the collector threatens you with criminal charges, asks you for sensitive personal information without giving you information about your debt, tries to collect on a debt you don't recognize, or refuses or is unable to give you any information about the company they work for or their name, do not give them any information or money.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau said people can refuse to discuss any debt until they get a written validation notice.

The notice must include the following:

  • The amount of the debt a person owes.

  • The name of the creditor.

  • A description of certain rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If you think the call is suspicious, hang up and contact your creditor directly. You can also report the call to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau or your state's attorney general's office.

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About the Authors:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio for five years. Before living in SA, Ivan covered border news in the Rio Grande Valley.

Valerie Gomez is an Emmy-nominated video editor and San Antonio native. She is the lead editor for KSAT Explains and also loves Jeff Goldblum.