WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - A lot of people have been getting calls from a debt collector lately but officials say to be careful - it might be a scam. The Better Business Bureau says there has been a rise in fraudulent debt collection calls in Wichita Falls in the past couple of weeks.
Experts say if you owe a debt and are being harassed by a debt collector their tactics could be illegal. To check - go onto the Fair Trade Commission website - FTC.gov. They house and enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
"They can see if a particular debt collector is acting the way they are supposed to be. Obviously, they aren't supposed to be threatening you and that sort of thing. That's if a consumer actually owes a debt and they are being harasses by a particular debt collector."
On the website you can file a complaint against a debt collector if they are not operating and collecting in a way they are supposed too.
So what do you do if you get a call from a debt collector and you do not owe that debt?
"It could be a couple of different things. It could be a phony debt collector trying to scare and trick you into giving them money or it could be an indication that there has been identity theft. That's usually one of the signs that the consumers receive, unfortunately, that they start getting collection notices on a debt that they did not occur."
They say some phony debt collection callers have been using a bogus Wichita Falls address for a company that doesn't exist. So what is the first line of defense for consumers if you are being duped about debt?
"Our typical advice to any consumer if you receive a debt collection phone call ask them to send you proof of the debt in the mail. We don't advise anyone to get out their bank account information and give it to them over the phone."
BBB officials say if you want to get a free yearly credit report there is only one site they recommend. It is annualcreditreport.com*. It is established by the Federal Trade Commission. They say be careful when you type in the website name. Spell everything correctly or you may be directed to another site that's going to charge you.