Attorney General spokesperson, Lynn Hicks says it has become a nationwide problem. “We are calling this Operation Corrupt Collector and our office is working with other AG’s and the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies,” Hicks says. “Part of it is the enforcement — but a lot of what we are doing here is just educating people what their rights are.”
He says the pandemic has created a lot of stress for people and some debt collectors are trying to take advantage of that. “So we want to make sure people understand that if they do get calls for debt — maybe a debt they already paid or don’t think that’s theirs — or if they are getting threatening and harassing calls, that they are armed with the information that they need,” Hick says.
He says the people on the calls may not have the legal authority to collect the debt, but sound like they do. “Sometimes they seem to have enough information, a little bit of information to fool people into thinking this might be real,” Hicks says. “One of the things we say is to make sure you get the name of the collector and the collection company and all that information. And don’t give out personal information out over the phone,” according to Hicks.
Hicks says a common tactic is to try and scare people with threats of legal action if you don’t pay right away. “If somebody tries to threaten you like that — especially if they try to threaten to arrest you or suspend your driver’s license — things like that — you can just hang up. And you can also report them, report them to us or report them to the FTC,” he says.
You can file an FTC complaint online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Or contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926 (in Des Moines area) or 888-777-4590. You can also file a complaint with the Attorney General online.