In the wake of holiday spending and numerous data breaches, the state Department of Consumer Affairs is reminding you to be on the alert for fake debt collectors.

Since 2008, more than seven million South Carolina consumers have received notices of security breaches, making them particularly vulnerable to various scam attempts.

Consumer Affairs spokeswoman Juliana Harris says fake debt collectors can use information gained from a data breach to seem more legitimate, especially if the caller has your Social Security number, date of birth or mother's maiden name.

If you have a bad feeling about a telephone call, don't be afraid to hang up – especially if they're threatening you and using scare tactics,” Harris says.  “If they're not willing to give you written proof of the debt, then that's definitely red flag and you should hang up.”

She says if a suspicious caller claims to represent a particular company or a collector, you should try to contact that company yourself with information you know is legitimate, such as a phone number from your statement or the phone book.

Also, looking on your credit report should tell you if the debt is yours.  A lot of times, people don't remember if it's a debt that they own, so it's very important to look on the credit report to see if it is an account that was theirs.”

You can also contact the state Department of Consumer Affairs to see if other consumers have reported receiving similar calls.

SCDCA can be reached at 1-800-922-1594 or by checking online at