Debt Collection Scams & Managing Real Collections

A SCARS Guide

After a scam, a victim may have significant real debt and collections becomes a reality!

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Many Scam Victims Have Significant Debt After A Scam Ends

In many cases, this means having to face collection efforts.

This article will provide a tool to help you avoid debt collection scams (yes, you scammers many times know that you took out loans and will try to scam you again), and to better control real debt collectors.

Please see our 4 Step Guide for Debt Management

About Debt Collection & Spotting Scams

How Can I Verify Whether Or Not A Debt Collector Is Legitimate?

If you have debts, the odds are you are going to get calls from collection agencies – some will be real, some may not be.

Ask the caller for their name, company, street address, telephone number, and if they are state-licensed debt collectors, a professional license number (not only ask if they are but ask for the license number). You can also ask for and refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” Do not give personal or financial information to the caller until you have confirmed it is a legitimate debt collector.

Sample Response Letter

First, you must get the address or email address of the collector.

You can tell them you will respond in writing using the sample letter below. Use the sample letter below to ask for more information about this debt and to give you confirmable information about the debt and the collector.

How to use this sample letter:

  • Fill in your information on the sample letter and edit it as needed to fit your situation.
  • Delete any parts that don’t apply to you.
  • Print and send or email the letter as soon as you can.
  • Keep a copy for your records.
  • You should consider sending the letter by certified mail or another method by which you can establish when the letter is received by the intended recipient. A Read Receipt on email also works.

The Basics Of Using This Approach

Send this letter as soon as you can — if at all possible, within 30 days of when a debt collector contacts you the first time about a debt. This is important because, under the U.S. Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, your legal rights to obtain verification information from a debt collector are greater during the 30-day period. This is probably true in other countries too – time works against you!

When a debt collector is asking you to pay money, you’re entitled to ask for details.  The sample letter below will help you to get details on the following:

  • Why a debt collector thinks you owe this debt.
  • The amount of the debt and how old it is.
  • Details about the debt collector’s authority to collect this money.

A debt collector may not have a legal obligation to provide some or all of the information you seek, even if you request it within the 30-day period.  If the collector doesn’t give you what you request, that doesn’t necessarily mean the debt collector has broken any laws or has given up a legal right to collect from you, or is a scammer.

When you have doubts about a collector do contact your government consumer protection agency to find out what is required and what your rights are.

After You Send Your Letter

  • If the debt collector makes vague statements about what will happen if you do not pay, read their response to your letter carefully. If they tell you that they intend to sue you, you should take that seriously. Federal law prohibits a debt collector from threatening to take any action they can’t take or that they don’t intend to take.

If you have specific questions, you may want to contact a licensed civil attorney or solicitor to help you.  If you need a lawyer, you can use these or search for attorneys in your country:

  • Review this list of state legal services.
  • Find lawyer referrals in your county and state by visiting the websites for your local or county bar association, or legal aid.

U.S. State laws have statutes of limitations, or limited time periods when creditors or debt collectors can file a lawsuit to collect a debt.

  • These periods of time can be two years or longer.
  • The period of time varies by state and by the type of debt.
  • In some states, even a partial payment on the debt will restart the time period – keep this in mind.

If you suspect that the debt may be beyond the statute of limitations, you may want to consult a lawyer before making any payment on a debt.

Not all states require debt collectors to be licensed.  Where a license is required, knowing whether or not a debt collector is licensed may be useful.  If the debt collector isn’t conducting themselves properly, you can contact the state licensing agency.

Sample Letter

Copy and paste the following and then edit as required:


[Your name] [Your return physical mailing/postal address] [Date] [Debt collector name] [Debt collector Address]

Re: [Account number for the debt, if you have it]

Dear [Debt collector name]:

I a