There is nothing worse than being bothered by a debt collection agency at home. Except for, of course, when the debt they are calling about is fake, or if the caller is not actually from the company you owe.

A growing scam throughout the country involves so-called debt collectors calling consumers and telling them that they need to pay up on a phony debt or a real debt that they have no authority to collect.

It has been reported that many of the scammers are very intimidating on the phone and even tell consumers that they will be arrested if they don’t pay. 

The callers may even have some personal information on the consumers, which can make it seem more believable that they are legitimate debt collectors. Because pretty much all Americans have debt of some kind, it is a scam that numerous people are falling for.

Some consumers are afraid of being arrested so they unwillingly pay up. Other consumers get so fed up by the relentless phone calls that they pay their supposed debt in order to get the callers to stop. In order to avoid being one of these people, consider following these tips:

Know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Even legitimate debt collectors are forbidden from calling you between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. unless you give them express permission.

Ask for a Validation Notice. You have the right to receive a Validation Notice stating the name of the creditor and amount owed as proof before paying it.

Take the caller’s information. Get the caller’s name, employer, address and telephone number to confirm that he or she is authorized to collect the debt.

Report any inappropriate treatment. Report any treatment that you find offensive to the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau if it is a legitimate company.

Anytime you feel your rights are being violated, it is wise to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help protect them and fight on your behalf.