Scammers are posing as legitimate debt collectors—threatening Texans with debt they do not owe. Their tactics can be very intimidating. Learn how to spot and avoid these false debt threats.

How Debt Collection Scams Work

It's very simple: Someone contacts you — often by phone, but also by text message, fax, mail or email — and claims that you owe a debt. The debt may be completely fake, canceled, discharged, forgiven or beyond the period for collection.

In any case, the scammer will use all sorts of techniques to get you to pay — intimidation, lies, harassment, etc.

Before you pay any debt to any collector, confirm that the debt is real and valid. And be on the lookout for the signs of a debt collection scam.

Know What You Owe

One of the surest ways to avoid a debt collection scam is to know all of your real or valid debt. If someone contacts you about a debt you owe, you can quickly identify whether it's real or fake.

Note: When you get your credit report, review it carefully for false, outdated, or inaccurate entries.

How to Spot Debt Collection Scams

Texas consumers have reported many tactics used by debt collection scammers. These scammers can be very convincing, which is why you need to spot the signs of a fake debt collection:

They Ask for Info They Should Already Have

Real debt collectors already know much of your information — e.g., how much you owe, your address, social security number, birthday, etc. But debt collection scammers probably don't have all of your info already, so they'll ask for it. If they don't seem to know enough about you, there's a good chance they're a scammer.

They Won't Share Their Info with You

Whenever someone tries to collect a debt, ask for all of their company's information, including:

  • The collector's full name
  • Company name
  • Company address
  • Company phone number
  • Company website address
  • Company email

Request all of these details. Write them down. Send the agency a letter by mail asking them to confirm their debt in writing. Search for the company name on the internet, review their website, call their number, etc. Do your homework.

If they refuse to answer all of your questions, there's a good chance you're in the middle of a scam. Don’t respond and file a complaint with us.

They Threaten or Lie to You

First of all, the law prohibits debt collectors from lying, threatening you with things they can't do or posing as government officials. Remember, you have debt collection rights.

Scammers like to use intimidation and fear to get payments. You won't go to jail for your debt, so if the collector says that you will, they're lying. You also can’t be sued in any county other than where you lived when you signed the contract or at the time the lawsuit was filed. Break off contact with them and file a complaint.

They Insist You Pay Right Now

Real debt collectors will often try to get payment quickly, but if your collector is being very pushy, you should be suspicious. Scammers survive by getting people to pay fake debts before they have a chance to realize they're being scammed. So if a debt collector pushes you to pay immediately, be very cautious.

They Ask You to Pay by Untraceable Methods

Scammers don't want to be found, so they often insist you make a payment by Visa gift card, iTunes gift card, wire transfer—or some other untraceable method. Real debt collectors will accept normal, trackable payments (e.g., check, traditional credit card, etc.). Don't ever send a debt payment by wire transfer, especially overseas.

If You Are the Victim of a Debt Collection Scam

First, if criminal activity was involved, contact your local law enforcement.

Then file a complaint with us. The more we know about current scams, the more likely it is we'll be able to identify or prevent similar scams in the future.

Never attempt to "scam the scammer." You may be upset, but trying to get revenge will not work. The more you engage with scammers, the more likely you'll lose more money and time.

Finally, contact a major credit reporting agency. Tell them you've been targeted by fake debt collectors. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your credit report. They are required to tell the other two agencies about your fraud alert.:

Remember: Some Debt Collection is Legitimate

If you owe money, the lender will sometimes hire a debt collection agency to try and get you to pay. So, some debt collectors are real, and they're acting on behalf of the company to whom you owe money.

However, real debt collectors still have to obey the law. And you have rights as a consumer. Learn more:

Your Debt Collection Rights