Their “debt” collection days are over
Calling people and pushing them to pay debts they don’t really owe?
Posing as law enforcement and fake government agencies like the “Federal Crime Unit of the Department of Justice”?
Threatening to sue or arrest people — or tell their family and employers about a debt?
Reciting people’s Social Security and bank account numbers to seem legit?
Yup, this fake debt collection scheme did it all, illegally collecting more than $5.2 million in fake payday loan debts. Today the FTC announced that under a settlement with the agency, defendant Kirit Patel and his company Broadway Global Master, which processed payments for the scheme, will be banned from the debt collection business, and money recovered will be used for refunds. Patel also has pleaded guilty to the real Department of Justice on charges of criminal mail and wire fraud.
So how can you tell if you’re being targeted by a fake debt collector? A caller may be a fake debt collector if:
- you don’t recognize the debt
- you can’t get a mailing address or phone number for the collector
- you’re asked for personal financial or sensitive information
- you’re threatened with arrest or told you’ll be reported to a law enforcement agency
You have rights when it comes to debt collection. Tell the caller that you won’t discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice," which has to include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If the debt is legitimate — but you think the collector may not be — contact your creditor about the calls. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt. If it doesn’t check out, report the call to the FTC and your state Attorney General's office.