The Grand Junction Police Department, through the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, has received several reports recently of local residents who appear to be the targets of aggressive or fraudulent debt collectors. The victims received phone calls from people who claim to be with a debt collection agency. The callers demand a sum of money and then go on to say that if money isn’t paid the matter will be turned over to the D.A.’s office for criminal prosecution. In some cases the caller says an arrest warrant has already been issued. None of these claims are true.
If you receive one of these calls, never give the caller any personal information or bank account information. Instead, report the call to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by calling their complaint line (855-411-2372) or by filing the report online here.
Here are some other tips:
- Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If a caller refuses to give you all of this information, do not pay! Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them go away. They may make up another debt to try to get more money from you.
- Stop speaking with the caller. If you have the caller’s address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you, and keep a copy for your files. By law, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to in writing.
- Do not give the caller personal financial or other sensitive information. Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number unless you know whom you’re dealing with. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft – charging your existing credit cards, opening new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, writing fraudulent checks, or taking out loans in your name.
- Contact your creditor. If the debt is legitimate – but you think the collector may not be – contact your creditor about the calls. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.
For more information about this, and other scams circulating through the country, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
For more information about other types of scams hitting our area, listen to our podcast on The Insider on the GJPD Patrol.