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Contacted By a Debt Collector? Proceed with Caution

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From the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Consumers who fall behind on credit card payments or other bills sometimes hear from a debt collector. But people who don’t even owe any money may find themselves contacted by a debt collector…or someone who falsely claims to be one. Here are key points to know.

  • If a third-party collector (not your original lender) contacts you about a debt you owe, federal law requires you to be treated fairly and without harassment.

  • If you are contacted about a debt owed by a deceased relative, be careful. You may not have any legal obligation to pay these debts. Don’t send any more until you verify these claims.

  • Be aware that con artists sometimes pose as debt collectors. They may even claim to be from the government, including law enforcement, when attempting to collect on a non-existent debt. Warning signs include a caller who is unwilling to provide written proof of a debt (the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor you owe), who won’t provide a mailing address, or who threatens jail or violence.


Learn more about your rights when dealing with debt collectors.