BBB: Make sure loans are legit before paying collectors

DES MOINES — Iowans who are getting aggressive calls from loan collectors need to be sure the loans they’re trying to collect are real, especially before making payments.

Lisa Schiller with the Better Business Bureau says those collectors need to have a paper trail to confirm any loan they’re trying to collect.

“They should be able to provide you with proof that you owe money, whether it was from years ago or it was more recent, where is the proof?” Schiller says. “They should be able to provide you with that.” In many cases, Schiller says businesses buy loans in bulk without first checking to see if they are still valid.

“Don’t just go ahead and pay it because somebody called you or sent you a threatening letter,” she says. “You really have to look into it these days. You have to just do a little bit of homework.”

Also, be very careful before you sign up for “debt settlement” payment plans, as Schiller says predatory companies will simply take your money and not help you with your bills at all.

“What we always tell consumers, is to make sure, first of all, that the person that’s trying to collect on that debt is legitimate,” Schiller says.

In many cases, she says collectors may try to pass off out-of-date or already-paid loans as still active. If you’re having trouble, contact state consumer protection or the BBB for help.