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Holidays inspire fake debt collectors

Sunday - 12/22/2013, 8:05am  ET

WASHINGTON - It's the time of year when criminals are especially busy.

With so many people shopping, scammers often choose the holiday season to try to separate you from your money.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers about fake debt collectors working the phones. The fake collector might even have some of your personal information, and ask to confirm it.

The FTC says you should never provide confirmation, or volunteer any personal information such as your address, bank account, credit card number or Social Security number.

The agency says debt collectors can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.; they also can't curse, insult you or demand that you pay more than you owe.

The FTC says consumers nationwide are reporting they're getting calls from individuals who are trying to collect money on loans. However, it's either on a loan the consumer never got or for amounts higher than what is owed.

The FTC acknowledges it can be difficult to tell a real debt collector from a scammer.

If you believe the debt is legitimate but the collector is not, you should contract your creditor, and alert the FTC and your state attorney general's office.

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