I just answered a question on Avvo.com, where the person asked if they could be put in jail for not paying a payday loan. They said they don’t even remember taking a payday loan, but they got a call from someone saying they will go to jail if they don’t send a payment. There are so many things that are wrong here!
First off—if you get a call out of the blue from a debt collector—request, no DEMAND, that they send any request in writing! In order to collect for any kind of debt, the debt collector is required to send you a letter verifying the debt. If they refuse to send you a letter, you know right away it’s a scam! You need to know what debt it is for and make sure you really owe that debt!
Second—No, you can’t be put in jail simply for not paying a debt! Yes, you can be sued, and be required to go to court. There are very limited ways you could be put in jail, though. And, for sure you won’t be notified by phone!
Third—No debt collector can threaten to put you in jail for not paying a debt! Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, it is illegal to deceive someone threatening some action that can’t be done! This threat alone is illegal, and you could sue them and recover money and legal fees!
So it is very important to be aware of these scams, and, no matter how mean or threatening someone is on the phone, you aren’t powerless. You have rights. You have power to hang up. You have the power to call a lawyer before you do anything! Don’t fall for the scams!
Daniel J. Winter
Offices in Chicago, Gurnee, Oak Lawn, and Skokie, Illinois