Ken Paxton

Beware of Phony Debts

Thursday, January 15, 2004
A number of consumers have turned to our office in confusion because they have received demands from collection agencies trying to collect for debts that do not seem to exist. Whenever a consumer complains about an unauthorized debt or charge, we immediately suggest the possiblity that the consumer's identity has been stolen. You can read about our recommendations for preventing or dealing with identity crime on our Identity Theft page and on our website

In some cases, however, no proof can be produced that a debt even exists. It appears that some collection agencies, sometimes little more than PO boxes, may hope that an intimidating letter will frighten the consumer into paying off a small but totally bogus alleged debt. While we cannot provide private individuals with legal advice, we do caution these consumers that in addition to taking steps to protect themselves from ID theft, they should demand proof that an unfamiliar debt even exists.

Any legitimate lender can readily produce a paper trail to show that a credit transaction actually took place. You can read about fair debt collection practice in our Debt Collection consumer topic, and report violations by a debt collection company to our office at