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Don't let credit scammers spoil your holiday

During the holiday season, it can be easy to lose track of spending or throw budget restrictions aside in favor of a "can't miss" deal or gift obligation. Even the most careful person can find it a challenge to keep records and spending under control. This is a situation people try to take advantage of. For instance, if you are like many other people, you could be targeted this month by fake debt collectors looking to cash in on the financial challenges you may be facing.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are people all over the country who are contacted by people claiming to be debt collectors trying to collect debt unlawfully. It can be crucial that you as a consumer understand what these fraudulent practices are and what you can do to protect yourself.

In an effort to get money from consumers, fake debt collectors can do a number of things including fabricating debts, trying to collect real debts without authorization or attempting to collect personal information in order to gain access to your bank accounts.

Many of these scams rely on consumer emotions. People are often embarrassed by debt or scared of creditors and may do whatever they can to just get rid of them. They may not ask questions or feel empowered to demand more information from a supposed creditor.

However, asking questions and demanding confirmation of a debt, the collector's identity and validation that he or she is authorized to collect the debt in question can be the best ways to shut down these schemes. If you have any doubt about the debt collector or the debt itself, it is crucial that you do not give out any personal information or make any payments.

If you feel you have been contacted or scammed by a fake debt collector, you can take a couple steps to protect yourself. First, you can report the scam to the FTC and/or the Florida Attorney General.

You can also speak with an attorney to learn more about your rights when it comes to fair debt collection practices. If a legitimate debt collector failed to comply with state or federal collection guidelines, you can take legal action to defend yourself, your finances and your future.

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