Debt collection phishing scams are on the rise. Aggressive call centers use pressure tactics to target vulnerable consumers and get them to pay debts they never owed. These fake “debt collectors” refuse to provide any documentation of the debt, since none exists – and use every forbidden tactic to make consumers feel that their time is short and they must make a payment as soon as possible. Just as they use phone calls for fake debt collection, scammers may use emails. Sometimes, they may even pretend to be another real debt collector and claim a consumer owes funds and try to recover from them – a practice called “phishing”. What can consumers do to protect themselves from debt collection phishing scams?
Identifying debt collection phishing scams
The key to a phishing attack is the fraudster pretending to be another trustworthy entity that may have a legitimate claim, and using their reputation to get your sensitive payment information. Follow our tips to make sure you don’t fall prey to these tactics.
Tip #1: Check who’s emailing
Who is the email coming from? Emails coming from TrueAccord come from a company domain (ending in trueaccord.com) and are sent through a mail service provider such as Mandrill. If the email comes from an unidentified domain, know that you’re a target for debt collection phishing. Always research the FROM: address, the email domain (the part after the “@”) and the website at that address. If they seem suspicious or unrelated to debt collection, don’t answer the email.
Tip#2: Look where links are leading but don’t download files
Debt collection phishing scams are built to collect your payment details and pressure you into paying for a debt that doesn’t exist. Some of them are even more malicious and will try and get you to download harmful code that will hurt your computer. The links, therefore, will land you on an unknown website and attachments may contain viruses. When you get an email from TrueAccord and click a link, and land on a different domain than TrueAccord.com, you’re in the wrong place and should under no circumstances provide any additional details. And, of course, never download and open files if you don’t trust the source.
Tip #3: Look for spelling and grammar errors
Debt collection phishing targets distracted, uninformed or unaware consumers. This is why scammers often don’t invest in crafting the best possible message and can easily be caught having typos, spelling errors and grammar oversight. Read the message carefully and suspect messages that don’t make sense, or look like they have been translated from another language.
Tip #4: Don’t be pressured
One thing scammers know: they are working on borrowed time. Once their scam is revealed, they will get shut down quickly. That is why debt collection phishing emails focus on aggressive, manipulative and urgent language. They may threaten legal action or other types of harm and will stop at nothing to make you pay. No real collector will resort to these tactics – especially not a service-oriented technology company like TrueAccord. Don’t let explicit language and threats pressure you into paying; while being in debt has obvious downsides, fake debt does not. You shouldn’t have to pay it.
Tip #5: Ask for more information
Scammers have to rely on what little information they have about you to pressure you into providing financial information. TrueAccord emails, in comparison, come with at least one link that allows you to get more information about your debt before paying a cent. Scammers won’t offer additional information because they don’t have it – a company that collects real debt will. If you don’t recognize the debt (e.g., the email claims you owe money to a company you are confident you’ve never done business with), make sure you challenge the sender. If this is a debt you never heard about, there must be more details you can get before you provide your personal information. If you don’t recognize the company, look for them online and email their support team.
It’s never fun to be subject to debt collection – although we’re on a mission to make it better. It’s even less fun to be a victim of debt collection phishing and pay money you’re not supposed to pay. Look at the signs, detect anything suspicious, and ask questions – for a safer and better online experience.