Imagine your phone rings and you hear someone on the other end demanding you owe cash and better pay quickly or you’ll be arrested. It happened to Attorney John Skinner’s client. The calls came about a payday loan collectors were claiming he owed.
The phone calls wouldn’t stop and came from numerous phone numbers with different area codes. When Attorney Skinner tried to dig into who was demanding the cash from his client, he couldn’t get a straight answer.
“The names they’ve gone by are Law Group of Texas, Law Group of California,” Skinner said. “Then from online they’ve got a hundred other names as well.”
Skinner’s client may have been victim to what some are calling a scam. Come to find out, the Better Business Bureau, along with the Illinois and Kansas Attorneys General, have put out alerts that con-artists, posing as debt collectors, are calling people saying they owe payday loans.
According to the alerts, the calls appear to be coming from outside of the U.S., using internet phone numbers, though often they are using “official” sounding names, even government agencies, making the scammers nearly impossible to track down.
“Posing as the Department of Revenue, the Department of Social Security, a state welfare office, this is very common among thieves who are trying to steal money over the telephone instead of using a gun,” Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, said. Anthony says her office has also heard about this scam, and says even if you woe someone money, it’s important to remember you still have rights.
“No one has the right to harass you, yell at you, use profanity, threaten to put you or your family in jail, or to tell your neighbors or other relatives about your debt.”
So what do you do if someone calls you to collect on a debt?
-demand to see verification of your debt in writing
-ask for the collection company’s name and address-hold off paying until you get that information
-if you feel you don’t owe the debt, you always have the right to dispute it
-if you can’t get a straight answer on any of these, that should raise a red flag
“These are efforts to do two things, number one, to steal money from people but also to steal personal information, such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers,” Anthony says. Harassing phone calls, threats, and evasiveness; if you’re getting this from an alleged debt collector, your best bet may be to hang up, rather than pay up.