Criminals Could Be Working at Debt Collectors – That’s a Risk You Don’t Want to Take

One of the most worrisome of all risks consumers face is identity theft. Most people think this happens just through data breaches. For example, in 2017, the credit reporting agency Equifax had a data breach that exposed the Social Security numbers of 143 million consumers. Now, imagine if criminals did not have to do all the behind the scenes scamming to gather that information. Rather, they could just decide to work for a debt collection agency.

Are Criminals Threatening You to Pay Money?

Imagine what may happen if a criminal approached you, threatened you, and demanding money from you. The problem is, there have been numerous instances over the last 10 years in which criminals have done just this, by working as an employee through a debt collection agency.

In one example, a woman who had been convicted of financial card fraud was hired by a large debt collection firm. That company – it would later be determined – had at least 81 people working for them that has a felony or gross misdemeanor conviction.

While state laws differ, most states require that those who handle personal data like this have a background check. Data like felonies should be easy to spot on someone’s record. In that case, specifically, the debt collection company told the Minnesota Commerce Department that she had no criminal history. In Minnesota, the state is rather aggressive at prosecuting companies that abuse laws that protect consumers from such risks. Yet, this single company wasn’t the only example in the state. A small number of others were also reportedly doing the same thing.

Knowing the Rules

If you need to hire a debt collection company, ensure the company you hire is following all the legal requirements for employing people working in the field. You also want to ensure that they are following all state and federal laws for sharing data like this. For example, in California, the Consumer Privacy Act provides very specific rules that govern how information from consumers – including Social Security numbers, account numbers, and other identifying information – is accessed by people working within debt collection companies and otherwise. Know that the company you are hiring to handle debt collection can verify this insight.

If you are using in-house employees for these types of tasks, even on a lower-level scale of helpful reminder calls for payment, it is critical that you have a full background screening completed. This helps minimize risks to your business’s operations hands down. You do not want those with a criminal background to work in any component of your business operations, especially when it is a violation of state or federal law. Also, note that threatening calls, aggressive behavior, and lying to consumers is also prohibited when collecting a debt.

Of course, it all starts with choosing the right consumers to lend to. Having better credit scoring and decision insight can help you to do that.

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