Why your debt collection email may be fake

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Gentle Giant

Giant Admin for a Day
Staff member
Assuming that you actually get here to this part, here's some reasons that your debt collection email may be fake.

If you have read about how to identify a scam email (which is here) then in addition to things like bad grammar, poor spelling, even poorer punctuation, the use of free email servers, etc. these are some other things that might mean your debt collection email is a scam.

Note: Debt collectors may try to contact you by email but there are some things which set real ones apart from scams.

1. You owe us money!
Yes, so who are you anyway? Do you have a website? Did you direct me to your website? (All good questions to ask yourself)

2. You owe us $xxx.xx!
Real debt collectors tell you the actual amount you owe. You don't have to guess. They're very clear on this point. If you get an email like CSR Collections Administrator or Blake Morris Jr, NorDon Collections where you have to guess how much you owe, it's a scam.

3. You owe a debt to (xyz company).
Real debt collectors also indicate who you created a debt obligation with and they tell you that the debtor probably sold the debt to the collection agency. If you get an email such as the ones above where they don't mention who you owed the original debt to, it's a scam.

4. You need to pay us by ______!
Real debt collectors also indicate a date by which they would like to receive payment.

5. Send a check or money order to _______!
Real debt collectors who want money might ask for payment by cashier's check or money order. They will tell you exactly where to send the check. You don't have to wonder about it.

6. Call us immediately at __________!
Real debt collectors also include a phone number because, not only do they like the personal touch, they want to know how fast you will send them the money.

7. "All invoices dated 01/01/1996 to present are overdue"
Invoices for January, 1996 to the present? That's an 18 year old debt (at the date I write this) and this is first time anyone is trying to collect it? In real life it's about 90 days, if that long. It isn't 18 years. Also, there's a statute of limitations on debt like this which 7 years (in The U.S.), so at best these people could only collect back to about January, 2007. A real bill collector would know small details like that.

8. "You are going to be legally prosecuted in the Court House within couple of days"
No, you aren't. No regular court in the world moves that quickly.

9. "You are found guilty for misuse of Computer system information"
Really? When did that happen? Who found me guilty? Scammers often use the "illegal activity" idea to scare you into thinking you might have done something wrong so better to settle the debt and make the issue go away. Forget it, it's a scam.

10. "The details are in the attached (zip) file"
Do not ever open a zip file from someone you don't know. It's possible that someone wants to install a virus on your computer.

11. "You can pay by credit card so send us your information"
Oh yeah, that's probably safe to do. NOT! Do not provide your credit card information to anyone unless or until you can actually verify any and all information about the people who claim you owe them money. Credit card theft is not fun to deal with.


Staff member
In many countries there are consumer protection laws. If you are in the U.S. for example, you are covered by and have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and the recent Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
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