Alert
Close

Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Join the Drive to End Hunger!

Highlights

Close

You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AARP Auto Buying Program

Contests and
Sweeps

$10,000 Winter Escapes Sweepstakes

Beat the cold and cozy up to a chance of winning $10,000! See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular
articles

Viewed

Scam Alert

Debt Collection Harassment

4 sneaky new tactics used by the folks who are after your money

3. False Facebook friends. It's no surprise that more debt collectors are using social media to collect information about debtors.

Typically, they use Facebook and other websites to locate debtors or get information about the person's assets. Sometimes, collectors set up fake profiles to befriend their targets, impersonate real "friends," or engage in harassment, such as posting messages advertising that the person owes a debt. Such harrassment violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (PDF).

  • Your defense: Whether or not you owe a debt, set your Facebook privacy settings so your profile is visible only to known and vetted friends. Accept Friend requests only from people you know and trust. Above all, realize there are no secrets in cyberspace, and scammers also troll social media. So keep your personal info truly "personal."

4. High-mileage hoaxes. In one classic debt collection scam, local crooks pose as police or government agents and telephone debtors — or even people who owe nothing — to threaten immediate arrest unless a supposed debt is paid. Now some of these impostors are calling from far-away places, like India.

Such was the case of a scam ring recently busted by the Federal Trade Commission. Over the course of two years, fraudsters claiming to be "Officer Mike Johnson" or reps of fake government agencies (including the "Federal Crime Unit of the Department of Justice") made more than 2.7 million calls to at least 600,000 numbers nationwide. All told, they bilked victims of more than $5.2 million.

The callers claimed to be watching their targets or standing by just blocks away from their homes or workplaces for an imminent arrest, but in fact were thousands of miles away in India (although the alleged ringleader was based in California).

  • Your defense: Even if a caller has your personal information such as an address or Social Security number, be aware that those details could have been purchased for use in extorting money from you. Insist on getting written proof of any claimed debt, and then carefully check the claims and company before paying anything. And use common sense: Since when do police give advance warning that they're going to make an arrest?

Go to this Federal Trade Commission Web page for information on how to deal with debt collectors. Visit this one for tips on how to distinguish who's real and who's fake.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Exclusive annuities for members from AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Homeowners Insurance
Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points