7On your side: Calls from alleged debt collectors - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7On your side: Calls from alleged debt collectors

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Despite what the callers may say, they cannot put you in jail or garnish your social security check.

But people claiming to be debt collectors have been calling consumers in the Lake area.

Officials with the Southwest Louisiana Better Business Bureau say they have fielded a lot of calls lately from consumers contacted by people claiming to be debt collectors.  

BBB President Carmen Million says they've probably had fifty calls.

"We've had consumers contact the Better Business Bureau just really upset, crying,  devastated because they're afraid they're going to be arrested because of this particular debt," said Million.
  
First and foremost, Million emphasizes you're not going to get arrested for not paying a debt.
"Somebody's calling you and they're telling you that you owe debt and that you're going to go to jail.  What they're telling you is illegal," said Million.

She says you have the right to ask for documentation of the debt.

"You should ask them immediately for their company name, their mailing address and phone number and tell them that you want written documentation that shows that you owe the debt, what the debt is for and that gives you the opportunity to research it and determine if it's legitimate.  If a company is not willing to provide that information, that's your first sign of caution," said Million.
 
Million  has this advice for disputing the debt:

"If it's a debt that you've already paid they should provide you with the information. You have a right if it is a collection agency to dispute that debt.  And of course we always recommend that you dispute a debt in writing by sending a letter return receipt requested," said Million.

If you're not sure whether the call is about a legitimate debt,  get as much information as you can, call the better business bureau and in the process don't give out any personal financial information.

"You should not give a bank account number, you should not give your credit card number, you should not give your social security number and of course you should not go to Walmart and purchase a green dot money card to pay a bill, especially when you're just not familiar with it," said Million.

 It's also a good idea to keep proof of debt payment for five to seven years.

For more information on your rights regarding debt collection click here.

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