During an unprecedented public health crisis, it’s natural to expect a higher level of understanding and compassion. Unfortunately, our bankruptcy lawyers in Memphis TN know that lenders and debt collectors don’t care much about the average person’s struggles.

Many lenders are continuing on with business as usual. While there are temporary reprieves for those struggling to pay current bills, old debts are fair game. In fact, despite protections, some debt collectors have tried to seize the government-issued $1200 stimulus check, a critical lifeline for the newly unemployed.

Dealing with a debt collector can provoke anxiety, understandably. Unfortunately, there are deceitful scammers out there, ready to prey upon that vulnerability.

Information can protect you. Read below to learn more about some of the most common illegal tactics. Bankruptcy lawyers Memphis TN trusts have additional resources to help. Download our free report on what creditors can’t do.

Common Illegal Debt Collection Practices

Taking Advantage of Memory Lapses

These scammers will take any chance they get to prey upon a gap in memory. For example, using various pieces of information they can find from old applications or other documents—either publicly available or hacked—they’ll trick you into paying what you don’t owe.

Threatening Arrest

This is another one of their favorite tricks. Although it’s illegal to falsely claim you’ve committed a crime or say that a warrant is out for your arrest, shady collectors may warn you that the police are already on their way to your home. Remember, failing to pay a debt cannot send you to prison.

Jacking Up the Amount of Legitimate Debt

There are still scams to be aware of even if you have legitimate debt to collect. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Buffalo, New York collection agency added $200 to every debt it went after. Additional fees led to balances seven times the actual amount in some cases.

Suspect a scam? Here’s what to do.

  • Ask for identification. You’re allowed to know the caller’s name, company, address, and phone number.
  • Inquire for specific information about the debt. Debt collection agencies are required by federal law to specify the amount owed and the name of the original creditor, as well as information on how to appeal the claim.
  • Check your credit report if you’re suspicious after a call. Legitimate debt should be listed on your report.
  • Do an online search for the caller’s number. Other consumers may have already flagged the same number.

Know your rights. View our free report.

I’ve written a free report on what creditors can and can’t do. It explains your rights and how to report illicit activity. Download it here.

And remember, serious debt does not resolve itself. There’s no shame in seeking a solution. If you are panicked about calls from collectors, it may be time to consider bankruptcy. If you’d like to explore your options, connect with bankruptcy lawyers Memphis, TN trusts by calling us at (901) 327-2100 or completing this online form.