Tennesseans lost more than $18 million to scammers last year, according to new data released from the state, which makes Tennessee the fifth-leading state per capita when it comes to complaints about fraud and other scams.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is urging Tennesseans to learn the red flags that might indicate a scam and always report suspected fraud to local law enforcement.
Tennessee had 53,014 complaints of fraud and other reports compared to 43,579 last year. The top three complaint areas, according to the Federal Trade Commission, were debt collection, imposter scams and identity theft.
TDCI is reminding people to be wary of unscrupulous and illegal practices of debt collection agencies.
Debt collectors are not allowed to harass, oppress or abuse consumers or any third parties they contact. Examples of what they are not allowed to do are:
- Use threats of violence or harm.
- Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies).
- Use obscene or profane language.
- Repeatedly use phone communication to annoy you.
- Contact you at inconvenient or unusual time periods (Between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. is considered acceptable).
- Contact you at work if the collector knows, or has reason to know, the employer prohibits such communication.
- Contact you after you provided a notice in writing that you wish the communication to cease.
- Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
- Falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- Falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
- Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
- Misrepresent the amount you owe.