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.
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