News & Resources

Debt collection agencies can benefit victims of ID theft

Aug 08, 2011 Mike Garretson

Debt collection agencies can become a nuisance for many consumers and often get a bad wrap, especially as many people work to recover from the economic recession.
 However, debt collectors can actually be beneficial as a means of identity verification, particularly for consumers who have debt, the Star-Telegram reported. The source explains that surprise phone calls regarding a significant amount of debt are often the only way that many consumers are able to determine their identitites have been stolen. According to the source, nearly 41 percent of identity theft victims first learn of the crime when a debt collection agency, creditor or law enforcement agency calls them. If a consumer is repeatedly receiving calls from agencies, it may be in their best interest to answer, rather than ignore them - even if they are positive they've no debt. "Indeed, [resource centers] recommend that ID theft victims turn the tables on the collector who is trying to get information from them, and get as many details as they can about the account," Teresa Mcusic told the source. "Then, take that information and go to the source of the problem." If a consumer does believe he or she is a victim of identity theft, they should add a fraud alert to their credit report. The service lasts up to 90 days, and can be renewed every 90 days for up to three years. Additionally, they should file a police report and share a copy of it with collections agencies. Furthermore, it's important to provide proof of identity theft to both the merchant and the debt collection agency. Asking as many questions as possible could also help deter fake debt collections agencies. If contacted by a group posing to be a debt collection agency, it's is in a consumers' best interest to keep them on the phone and request information regarding the alleged loan in writing. Thereafter, a consumer should contact his or her banking agency financial institution and a local law enforcement agency. To check the validity of a claim, three major credit reporting agencies each offer a free credit report to consumers annually, KCAU-TV reported.