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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
Champ Clark
March 06, 2012 at 11:23 am

On a whim, when a collector called me about a past due ammount and they where going through the "this may be recorded" announcement, I jokingly said "Good! so am I!" it ended the conversation very fast. They said "I did not give you permission to record me" so I told them "likewise!" Now I do it on a routine basis and these calls get shorter and shorter. True is, I am not recording anyone but what do some of these people know about the truth?

Samael
March 06, 2012 at 11:18 am

Another option for folks like Pam is to keep the numbers of the companies calling you and report them to your state banking agency. This took care of not only the phone calls, but certified collection letters coming to our house. Best of all it only cost me a little time. I found this out after contacting a local news station, they gave me the name of the agency and person to call, and within a week or so of the call to the banking agency, it all stopped. I have been 2 years now without being harassed.

Steve
March 06, 2012 at 9:57 am

Pam, if you are getting calls for someone that doesn't live there anymore, inform the caller that you have told them on numerous occasions that the person no longer lives there, and your next 2 phone calls will be to the police to have a report completed, and the next will be to your lawyers to get a class action lawsuit filed against their company, which will shut down operations, and the person calling you will be out of a job. I tried it and it works like a charm.

Diane
March 06, 2012 at 9:41 am

A few years ago I got a call, someone with an accent asking for my bank name and account number so I asked if they wanted my routing number and he said yes ! So I just hung up. I think it was supposed to be for a donation for some organization.

frank curtis
March 06, 2012 at 8:50 am

joe c thanks for taking the time to share ur info, i dont need it but its nice to have thanx again...

Frank
March 06, 2012 at 8:43 am

I have Comcast phone service and I can block up to twelve(12) phone numbers. They can still call my number but my phone doesn't ring. Eventually they stop calling.

joe c
March 06, 2012 at 8:26 am

when they call get the info as if you are going to send payment by mail. then send them a certified leter ordering them to cease and decist their harrasment of you and your family. our family went through this after my brothers divorce, the bill collectors trying to reach his ex-wife would call anybody with the same last name. our last name is kind of unique so there are not many in the phone books. but in the cease and disist order he included our names and advised them that legal matters would pursue. BUT REMEMBER ALL LETTERS SENT MUST BE RETURN RECIEPT REQUESTED so if you have to contact a lawyer for suit againest them it is all documented. may cost a few dollars to send these letters but what is piece of mind worth. because if you dont take action they just keep calling and calling. once they reciave the notice they have 30 days to stop harrasing you. hope this helps check it out with a legal service or something else.

Bob , Massachusetts
March 06, 2012 at 8:15 am

You are getting these calls from collectors because your phone number in the past was someone else's number.
They had the number changed when collectors started calling them 3 to 5 times a week and the collectors keep the number in collections system they will keep calling you no matter if its the right person they are looking for or not.
To STOP this have your number changed or they will keep on calling.
It is aggravating when they do call looking for someone else and its not for you.

We had this problem before in the past too change your number "Problem Fixed"

Donna
March 06, 2012 at 7:42 am

I empathize with you Pam. I still get calls constantly for the people that we bought our house from 8 years ago. With the technology available, they KNOW I'm not "Frank & Pat" but harrass us anyway. If you get a way to make it stop, pleeeeze post it. Good luck!!!

Pam B.
March 06, 2012 at 3:56 am

How can I get bill collectors to stop calling me about someone elses bill?
The people gave these companies this phone number and the comnpanies dont believe me when I tell them that person doesnt live here.