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Consumer officials warn of more aggressive debt collection tactics

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Debt collectors are apparently more aggressive in getting money from Wisconsinites – and in some cases, they’re trying to cash in on debts that people don’t have.

The state Financial Institutions Department said today that over 100 people submitted written complaints to the agency this year, about debt collectors acting inappropriately.

Many folks say the callers threaten to put them in jail if they don’t pay now. State officials say debt collectors have no right to do that, since they’re not law enforcement officers.

The Financial Institutions’ Bureau of Consumer Affairs says identity thieves might be trying to collect from people who put personal information on a Web site that was hacked. Also, people with legitimate debts appear to be the targets of illegal practices from collection firms.

The consumer bureau suggests that people ask for verification about the debts they’re confronted with – never give personal information over the phone – and don’t buy money orders or debit cards to cover the alleged debts.

For those getting calls at work, officials say they should talk to their bosses about how to handle those calls.