The Phony Debt Collector Scam

The phony debt collector scam is a tactic that has been around for many years. Recently, it has become a popular technique of scam artists again. Here are the basics of the phony debt collector scam and what to do if you have been targeted.

The Scam

This scam starts out by you receiving a phone call from an unknown number. In some cases, it will seem to be a legitimate number, but you will not be familiar with it. When you answer the phone, the person on the other end will identify themselves as a debt collector. They will tell you that they are with a certain debt collection agency and that this is an attempt to collect a debt. Many times, they will say that they are working in conjunction with a local lawyer in order to get this account settled. Most of the time, they will look up the name of a real attorney in your area so that there is a chance that you might have heard of them.

The scam artist will tell you that you have incurred a significant amount of debt from a previous account. They will tell you that you potentially owe them many thousands of dollars. However, if you are willing to settle, they will agree to take a drastically reduced sum. For example, they might offer to let you settle your account for only $500.

Many times, these calls will come late on a Friday afternoon or evening. This way, any government offices that you could report this incident to will be closed. They will ask you to wire the money to them via Western Union or arrange some other type of payment method.


Many times, these scammers will be located outside the United States. For example, a recent scam involved a call center in India. These individuals will typically utilize a VOIP service in order to mask their phone number. They can even choose a phone number from a familiar area code to lend some credibility to the story.

Being Targeted

If you receive a call from a debt collector that you believe could be a scam, you need to be careful. Before you go any further with any debt collectors, you need to ask them for a written itemized statement of your debt. If they are unwilling to provide you with written proof of the debt, you should definitely not pay it. If you do not think that you incurred this debt, there is a good chance that you are being scammed.

If you believe that you have been targeted by a phony debt collector scam, you need to file a report with the Attorney General's office in your state. You might also want to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the incident. Try to get as much information as you can about the scam artist so that you can aid the authorities in getting to the bottom of the scam.

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