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If you get a call from out of the blue from a collection agency, be careful. It could be a scam.

I’m Adam Levin and this is the Wall Street Journal credit minute.

Consumers across the country are getting calls from debt collectors – sometimes for debts they don’t even owe. The collector may know alot about you – where you work, your bank account info or social security number. Don’t let that fool you.

Instead, ask the collector to send you a written notice of the debt – by snail mail, not email which can be easily faked. This is your right under federal law and scammers generally don’t bother. If you do get that notice, and you aren’t sure if you really owe the debt or if the amount is correct, you can dispute it. You have thirty days from when they send that notice, so act quickly, and send your dispute by certified mail. It won’t make the debt go away, but you’ll have time to research your options for dealing with it.

I’m Adam Levin. Come visit us at Credit.com and learn how to take control of your credit.