STATEWIDE — Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued a consumer alert highlighting phantom debt collection schemes.

Phantom debt is debt that doesn’t exist or has already been paid. To execute a phantom debt scheme, scammers call targets and claim money is still owed and must be paid immediately. Floridians should be aware of phantom debt scams to avoid falling prey.

“Floridians who pay off debt or may have never owed in the first place could still be subjected to ruthless scammers trying to steal money or obtain financial information through phantom debt schemes,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody in a news release.

Phantom debt scammers often pose as legitimate creditors or company representatives attempting to collect valid debts.

Consumers who suspect they may be dealing with a phantom debt collector should take the following steps to prevent being scammed:

*Avoid providing financial or private information to unknown individuals

*Ask for a validation letter from the debt collector that includes the collection agency’s name, address, current creditor and the amount of the debt owed

*Send a written request for the original creditor’s information and proof of the debt to confirm its validity

*Know that debt collectors are required by law to send a written validation notice within five days of making contact

To download Scams at a Glance: Phantom Debt visit this website – https://bit.ly/2SXzah1.

Consumers who suspect fraudsters are attempting to collect phantom debt should file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com or calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM.

Consumers experiencing harassment from a debt collector may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at - ReportFraud.FTC.gov and with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation at - FLOFR.com.

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