In the event that you owe money, creditors have the right to hire debt collectors to encourage you to pay your debt. However, while the use of debt collection agencies is not illegal, there are criminals who might try to coerce you to pay ‘debts’ that do not exist.
If a debt collector is contacting you, you must determine whether the collector is legitimate. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, potential signs of a scam include a debt collector withholding information from you, pressuring you to pay by untraceable means and threatening you with jail.
There are certain pieces of information that legitimate debt collectors must tell you. A legitimate debt collector must give you information about the creditor that he or she is working for, the amount of money you owe on the debt and that the debt collector will obtain proof of your debt if you dispute the amount.
In the event that the debt collector does not have this information on hand during the first contact, they must send you this information in a paper notice within 5 days of the first contact.
Payment and jail
Scammers often try to get victims to pay their debts off using money transfer or a prepaid card. This is because it is very difficult for law enforcement to trace these forms of payment. This makes it difficult for you to reclaim your money after you discover the scam.
In the majority of cases, it is not possible for you to go to jail as a result of unpaid debts. However, if you do owe criminal fines or restitution, the government may arrest you.