Getting Debt Collector Calls? Beware This Faker

First, we were put on hold for eight minutes, only to be hung up on; then we called back and got hung up on again; then we called back and were put on hold; when someone finally picked up and we asked for Eric, we got a puzzled reaction and were put on hold again; and then we got put on hold two more times and then Eric finally came back. Phones were ringing in the background and we could hear other reps on their calls.

We told Eric the case number you’d been given. He yawned and typed something in. “Actually,” he said, “there’s a note that pops up here that I can’t get his file, because his file has already been sent out.” He added that the computer notes say you were incarcerated in 2007 (not true, you told us) and that you are a “professional debtor” who doesn’t pay his bills (also not true). We asked Eric about the website not existing (he didn’t have an answer, except to say we must have typed it wrong), and when we repeatedly asked him where his company was located, he said he didn’t have time to talk anymore because “I have paperwork to process through.”

And then, click – Eric hung up on us, too.

We tried finding other business contacts for Affirmative Litigation Group and the closest we came was a listing for Affirmative Litigation at “123 Unknown Lane” with a phone number that does not work.

The only other footprints online were recent complaints from other angry consumers, saying they were getting calls threatening legal action over debts they said they didn’t owe. Our favorite post was from “JB,” who wrote that his caller claimed a restraining order was being filed against his mother-in-law: “Since my mother-in-law died over 10 years ago, I say good luck to them in trying to restrain her.”

Our take-away from this little exercise: You were smart to hold back your personal info and your money, and you were generous to want to alert others.

RELATED READ: ABC News' Investigation Into 'Phantom Debt Collectors'

You are correct that federal law requires debt collectors – the real ones – to send you a “validation notice” within five days of their initial contact telling you how much you owe, to whom you owe it and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the debt. The Federal Trade Commission has additional rules HERE.

The FTC also offers these tips for spotting fake debt collectors:

  • If you suspect a caller is fake, ask for their name, company, street address and phone number, and tell them you won’t discuss the debt until they send the required written “validation notice.”
  • Stop talking with the caller. If you have their address, send a letter demanding they stop contacting you and keep a copy for your files.
  • Never give out or confirm information such as your bank account, credit card number or Social Security number unless you know who you’re dealing with.
  • If you think the debt may be legitimate but the collector is not, call the creditor directly. Ask the creditor who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect its debts.
  • Report any suspicious calls at and to your state Attorney General.

- The ABC News Fixer

Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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