Is that debt really yours?

Debt collectors aggressively pursue money owed to their employers. While they may legally and justifiably pursue the collection of that debt, sometimes they take actions that aren’t justifiable to obtain money from an individual. One such action is the determined pursuit of money from someone who doesn’t owe the debt.

Someone who dodges his or debt might be difficult to find. When a determined debt collector finally locates a difficult to find debtor, the individual might be unlikely to pay. If a collector is desperate to collect on a debt from someone who isn’t likely to have the means to pay now or in the near future, the collector might use another tactic to obtain funds – accuse someone else with the same name of owing the debt.

While most collectors follow the rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), there are some who choose more underhanded ways to collect on a debt. These unscrupulous collectors may identify an individual with the same name as a debtor on file and aggressively pursue the debt from that individual. The collector will threaten legal action, ruined credit, and even arrest if the person doesn’t pay up. If an innocent individual fears such action and is intimidated by the collector, that person might pay the debt to get the collector to stop him or her from further harassment. While paying someone else’s debt might make the collector go away that day, the crooked collector might be back for more later.

When a collector claims a debt is yours when it is not or threatens jail time for failing to pay, that individual is violating the FSCPA Section 807. False or misleading representations. If you can, obtain that individual’s name, the organization he or she works for, and the phone number that person is calling from. Tell the individual he or she is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and that you’re reporting that person to the authorities. Once you do, hang up the phone and don’t answer any calls from that telephone number again. If the collector calls from a different or unlisted number, hang up again quickly and without saying a word.

Once you’re off the phone with the collector, access your favorite Internet search engine and type in “attorney general” along with the state you live in. File a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office against the collector. You may also go to http://www.consumerfinance.gov/Complaint/ to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Never let someone bully you into paying money you don’t owe. Turn that person into the authorities and never talk to him or her again.