The Better Business Bureau says fake debt collectors are targeting the Treasure Valley. Victims say they've received phone calls from someone claiming to be with the Civil Investigations Unit, ordering them to appear in court for a lawsuit connected to an unpaid debt.
The BBB's Dale Dixon says the message sounds official, but it's a debt collection scam.
"You've never been late on a loan or credit card payment, but you start receiving calls from debt collectors. The frequency increases, and you may get a voicemail explaining there is a complaint against you. The caller leaves a case number and instructions for you or your attorney to call back within 24 to 48 hours," Dixon explains.
If you think you might really have a debt in collections, Dixon says to know your rights.
"Ask the debt collector to provide official "validation notice" of the debt. Debt collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and a statement of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the self-proclaimed collector won't provide the information, hang up," Dixon said.
If you think a caller could be a fake, ask for their name, company, street address, and telephone number. Then, confirm that the collection agency is real.
The BBB says never provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have verified the call.
Check your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877)322-8228. This will help you determine if you have outstanding debts or if there has been suspicious activity under your name.
If the scammer has a great deal of personal information about you, be safe and place a fraud alert on your credit report.
And Dixon says to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if the caller uses threats. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collections from being abusive, unfair or deceptive.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.