DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers warned consumers today that his office has seen a spike in the number of consumers reporting fraudulent and threatening debt-collection calls over the past couple weeks.
According to the complaints, consumers are being contacted by entities using company names that are not licensed to collect debt in Colorado. The calls are coming from “unknown” phone numbers or “000-000-0000.” According to the complaints, the alleged debt collectors are threatening consumers with lawsuits or “showing up at their place of work” unless they pay off an alleged debt. The calls claim that consumers have incurred hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt but can settle for a significantly lower sum. The collection calls have informed consumers that they, the collection agency, are in possession of consumers personal identifying information, including their Social Security numbers.
“Consumers need to be extremely careful when they receive calls concerning debts they do not believe they have incurred,” Suthers said. “Colorado debt collection laws provide consumers with abundant protections aimed at keeping them safe from aggressive or unfair collection practices.”
When dealing with debt collection agencies, remember:
- If a collection agency or debt collector threatens you in any way, hang up and file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.
- If a collection agency or debt collector declines to provide you with a record of the debt, hang up and file a complaint.
- If you dispute a debt a collection agency attributed to you in a timely fashion, the collection agency must provide some proof that you actually owe the debt before contacting you again.
- If you would like to have a collection agency stop calling you at work or home, you must send a letter to the collection agency. A phone call is not sufficient. Once a collection agency receives your letter, they are barred from contacting you.
- If you inform a debt collector that you are not the subject of the debt, they must stop calling you.
- You do not have a right to make partial payments unless the collection agency agrees to such an arrangement.
- When dealing with debt collectors, keep copies of all of your correspondence, including any payments.
- After you have asked a debt collection agency to stop contacting you, for whatever reason, they may only contact you via a lawsuit.
Consumers who believe they have been defrauded or harassed by a debt collection agency can file a complaint online at www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/complaint, over the phone via 1-800-222-4444 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.