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Beware of bogus collection calls

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Friday, March 2, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

Some financial scams never seem to die, no matter how many warnings government agencies issue to consumers.

One example is payday loan collection schemes in which fraudsters call people who don't actually owe such debts and demand immediate payment.

The latest reminder to watch out for this scam comes from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center, a nonprofit criminal investigation support organization in Glen Allen, Va.

How the scam works: The caller poses as a representative of the FBI, Federal Legislative Department, a law firm or another legitimate-sounding agency. The caller claims to be collecting a debt for United Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Advance, U.S. Cash Net or another Internet check-cashing service. He or she demands payment via a debit card, credit card or prepaid card. Calls to the victim's home, cellphone and job site are relentless. The caller refuses to provide information or documentation. When questioned, the caller becomes abusive and makes threats of arrest or other legal consequences.

Oftentimes, the caller has accurate information about the victim, including his or her Social Security number, date of birth, address, employer information, bank account number, and names and telephone numbers of friends and relatives. This information may have been obtained when the victim previously completed an online application for a loan or credit card at a fraudulent website, according to an IC3 statement.

Differentiating bogus calls from legitimate ones can be difficult because calls from credit card issuers about overdue bills also typically involve requests for immediate payment over the telephone. If you're in doubt about a collections call, contact the loan company or issuer directly and verify whether you have a outstanding obligation. Get the details of the debt before you make a payment.

If someone contacts you and tries to collect a debt you don't owe, follow these steps.

  • Call the police if you believe you're in immediate danger.
  • Report the incident to your bank and credit card issuers.
  • Ask the major credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit file.
  • File a complaint at the IC3 website, IC3.gov.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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19 Comments
Xyzzy
April 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm

HOW TO THROTTLE BOGUS CALLS (updated 03/21/2012)

Ok, here's a solution if your phone has a contacts list--it works quite well on my iPhone, which allows unlimited phone numbers for any contact.

Step 1, create a contact named something like these names
            IGNORE JUNK CALL
            SCAMMING SCUMBAGS
            FRAUDSTERS LIST
                         ..... 
            
Step 2, select a SILENT ring type for this contact.  Or, select a distinctly unusual ring tone like
             CRICKETS or                              
             MOTORCYCLE  or
             RIFLE...

This lets you know if a repeat caller is on the line, but I prefer the silence myself.  My iPhone lights up showing the caller ID, even though I have a silent ring.

Step 3. Enable CALLER ID to be displayed for incoming calls that are made to your phone. It's a pity these stealth calls UNKNOWN, or OUT OF AREA, or their ilk, can't be blocked by any phone I know about. My iPhone won't let me put these names where the phone number field is entered.

So, what you do is to put the phone numbers of all bogus and scam callers that contact you, or try to call you, in this special contact. 

Also, unless you recognize a toll free number owner, let all calls of this type go unanswered, and if no 
voicemail is left, add the Caller ID (their  phone  number) into the                    IGNORE JUNK CALL contact.

Also add any other bogus calls
you get or know about, well they go in this contact too.

This may mean also all callers that don't leave a voice mail, or are soliciting you for services or products who you don't have a business relation with. And slime bags you don't want to talk to, like that jerk at the bar, or your ex.

For new toll free and also out of area calls: run these numbers
through Google search to see if they have been reported as junk or have been identified by others as scams.

Don't call an unsolicited  toll-free number back, it captures your own phone number, and you will get on other scam lists to call you.

Toll free numbers all have area codes from this list: codes 800, 888, 877, 866,  and codes reserved for future expansion include 844, 833, 822, 880 through 887, and 889. 

FURTHER: Don't take the default voice mail prompt that came with your phone, because it usually
speaks your phone number and indicates you aren't around to pick up the call and maybe even speaks your name as well.

Record a new one
like "Sorry I missed you, your message will be appreciated".
Friends will know your voice. Scammers, not so often.

My list is long now, my silent ring saves me from tons of spam and scam, and yes, the do not call list is worthless, and toothless as well.

Please feel free to copy this post anywhere, and to any forum. 

Consider writing a letter or email to your phone supplier, or your congressman to fix this awful state of affairs, and to put some teeth into the DO NOT  CALL law. Ask them to shut down the services that allow fake telephone numbers to be used as well.

Crafted by xyzzy

Antinea
March 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Transfer your current card bclanae to an interest free card. This usually gives 9 months to pay off. Make paying off the debt your main priority above everything else. If you have bclanae at the end of the 9 months on the said card, transfer to another of the same free interest.By the way the card should not be used for any more purchases whatever. The sole purpose is to pay over all monies owing

bommagene
March 09, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I got one better than the whistle. An air horn. Best 5.00 bucks I ever spent in my life & I don't waste my lung power.

JKA
March 06, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Poor Crystal. She has nothing better to do then make feeble attempts at sounding important.

Good advice Tom. I have some law firm calling me and demanding money. I owe no one and have a credit rating over 800. I too asked them to send me their nonsene in writing. They keep calling but have yet to send me anything. Now I just answer the phone and blow a very loud whistle.

Me
March 06, 2012 at 1:03 pm

@Crystal-----so tom's finger slipped. funny how you picked up on the most obvious error and nothing else. didn't even have anything constructive to add to the convo. my god i hate people like you. feel better now seeing your name on a computer screen?

stephanie
March 06, 2012 at 12:38 pm

We had the same scam done to us. The scam artists called and threatened suit, jail time and deduction in pay checks. We asked for proof in writing be sent to our address. never did. We had to battle it out to get it off our credit report, yep they reported it to all 3 credit agencies even though we owed nothing. They had no proof of any pay check loan agreement. Also some bottom feeders are buying up old debt and debt that was cleared in bankruptcy. We kept getting calls about money owed. what $$ we owe nothing. we did bankruptcy 8 years ago and have no debt besides 1 car loan & utilities. no credit cards either. Here it was a debt that was cleared in bankruptcy. they are just buying them up and hoping someone will feel threatened enough not to ruin their credit score and pay. Always ask for verification by mail. Don't give your address if it is true then they have it.

Crystal
March 06, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Screan? What is that? Do people not know how to spell? It's screen, not screan.

Tom
March 06, 2012 at 11:59 am

Screan your calls. Caller ID. If you are not familiar with the area the phone number or the name. Just simply don't pick up the phone.

If you do answer the call . tell this is Peggy with their reward discounts. Then hang up. Any ligitimate call to you they will say who they are and disclose the problem to you. Even when they do ask for the information in writing.

Bottom line: Do not give any information over the telephone: Even if you think it legitimate... I may not be.