With the advent of caller ID, (which at this point is not so new anymore,) we have as a society trained ourselves to not pick up the phone when an unfamiliar number pops up. In fact, I believe we are all guilty of this.

It comes into play especially when collection agencies are calling. Our instinct is to not pick up the phone and what could be worse, not return the call if a voicemail is left. This could be a bad move for any number of reasons.

One, if you have outstanding debt, you should take care of it and work with the company that is owed that money. Often times, there is flexibility in how you can pay it off. But there is another reason to pick up the phone.

The call from a collection agency could be tipping you off to identify theft.
We have talked about the need to pull your credit reports on a regular basis and that should indicate whether someone tried to invade your privacy but if you don’t pull your credit report and you’re one of the unlucky ones that have had your identity ripped off, collection agencies could save you a lot of headache.

A few quick tips.

Get as much information from the collector as possible including the amount of debt, the account number of the debt in question, the phone number of the fraud division if they have one and the date or dates of the transaction in question.

Work with your bank, credit card companies and anyone else that has issued you credit and make sure they are aware that this may have happened to you. And follow their advice on how to quickly repair the issue. Sometimes it’s not easy but do not delay.

Remember, next time a collection agency calls you, they may in fact be helping you.