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Debt collection scams can cause consumers to consider bankruptcy

They can be incredibly convincing. They have personal information that the consumer believes only a legitimate debt collector could know. Their tactics may even convince some New Jersey consumers to consider filing bankruptcy. The problem is that the person on the other end of the line is a scam artist and most likely got the consumer's information from a payday loan application.

This so-called phantom debt collector scam is designed to intimidate the individual into paying money that he or she may not even owe. They threaten lawsuits, asset seizures and even jail time. People have actually been known to pay out of fear.

However, people do not go to jail for not paying a debt. Anyone receiving these intimidating calls needs to request information validating the debt. In many cases, this will stop the calls. If not, it would be wise to contact the original lender to see if anything is due on the account. Debt collectors have to follow certain rules under federal law, and scare tactics such as the ones used in these swindles break all of those rules.

Many New Jersey consumers are already struggling with valid debt collection calls and do not need to add this type of harassment to the list. Filing for bankruptcy could stop harassing phone calls from creditors -- real or otherwise. Further, the filer is afforded the breathing space to evaluate his or her financial situation in order to make crucial decisions regarding the future. After the bankruptcy is closed and the phone stops ringing off the hook, the filer has the opportunity to start fresh and once again look forward to his or her financial future.

Source: CNBC, "Don't fall for the "phantom debt collector" scam", Herb Weisbaum, April 13, 2014

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