With the rise of fake debt collection agencies hitting the news and horror stories spreading on social media, you need to keep your wits about you when responding to demands from a suspicious debt collector.

There are many reputable debt recovery agencies that carry out work professionally, to incredibly high standards, providing a valuable service to companies who have been left vulnerable due to bad debtors.

However, where there’s good, there’s bad, and there has been an increase in fraudulent debt collectors who are scaring many individuals and businesses into paying false debts and extortionate fees.

Prepare yourself and investigate before you act

These fake debt collection agencies can be persistent and very persuasive so if you find yourself feeling unsure, refer to this checklist before you do anything:

  1. Have you ever had dealings with the company they claim to be acting on behalf of?  Sometimes a company will sell an old debt to another company so the debt may be related to something you don’t initially recognise. Try to be sure.
  2. Do you owe any money that you can recall?
  3. Do you have any previous paperwork that you can refer to with regards to the debt in question?
  4. Investigate the debt collection agency. Search online to see if the agency is a member of the CSA (Credit Services Association), which is the industry professional body and check to make sure they hold a license to carry out debt collection.
  5. If the debt collection agency is calling you by phone, ask them to identify themselves.  Ask for their name, their agency’s name and their reason for contact.
  6. Any posted correspondence you receive should detail who the agency is, how much is owed, how old the debt is and which company the original debt was with.

What the professionals won’t do…

A professional debt collection agency won’t harass you at unreasonable times of the day. They won’t force their way into your business or home, threaten you or those you know, or make you pay extortionate interest or collection fees over and above the terms of your original credit agreement.

If you’re worried, take action

If you’re worried that you may have been contacted by an unscrupulous ‘debt collector’, make sure you keep a record of letters received and sent, phone calls made and received (with details of date, time and person spoken to) and details of conversations, promises and threats.  If, after investigation, you feel you genuinely don’t owe any money, you can contact the authorities to report the company and complain. If you would like to know more about how debt collection should be done, visit www.pjcds.co.uk.