Attorney General Bondi Encourages Floridians to be Wary of Debt Collection Scams
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi warns Floridians to protect themselves against debt collection scams, particularly when the number appears to be from a legitimate governmental entity, such as the IRS or Attorney General’s Office. Scams where impersonators pretend to be collecting legitimate debt continue to top the number of complaints received by Attorney General Bondi’s Citizen Services Division, and there are measures Floridians can take to protect themselves.
"I encourage all Floridians who receive high-pressure calls demanding that they pay their debts immediately to use caution,” stated Attorney General Bondi. “One of the simplest ways to protect yourself from this type of scam is to say you’ll call the entity back and find its legitimate number." In some cases, the imposters will threaten that those who owe money will be jailed—law prohibits imprisoning those in debt. Oftentimes, the scammers will attempt to get their victims to purchase Green Dot or MoneyPak cards to pay their debts. Legitimate debt collectors will never ask for payment in this way. Debt collectors must adhere to these laws: · A debt collector may not contact you at work if the collector knows your employer does not approve, nor may a collector contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. · A debt collector is required to send you a written notice within five days after you are first contacted, telling you the amount of money you owe. The notice must also specify the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money and what action you should take if you believe you do not owe the money. · You may stop a collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the agency telling them to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. · If you do not believe you owe the debt, you may write to the collection agency within 30 days after you are first contacted, saying you don't owe the money. The agency may not contact you after that unless you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill. · A debt collector may not harass or abuse anyone. For instance, a collector may not use threats of violence against the person, property or reputation; use obscene or profane language; advertise the debt; or repeatedly or continuously make telephone calls with the intent to harass or abuse the person at the called number. In addition, debt collectors are required to accurately disclose their identities to the person at the called number. Anyone who believes that they have been the victim of a debt collector scam should call toll-free in Florida 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or 850-414-3990. Complaints can also be filed online at MyFloridaLegal.com. When reporting this type of scam, Floridians should include the number that was used when the call was received.