A Cleveland woman called BBB after she began receiving harassing phone calls for from two men who claimed to be ‘officers’ from a Field Office in the Washington DC area. When the calls began two months ago, the men said they had been instructed by Payday USA to arrest her for nonpayment of a $900 payday loan. In subsequent calls, the amount was reduced to $789. Even more disturbing, the callers had the consumer’s correct date of birth and her work phone number as well as the last four digits of her social security and checking account numbers.
When the consumer informed the callers she did not have the money, she was told to fax them a statement to (206)984-4200 with an agreement to pay the amount in two payments. Upon receipt, they would plead her case and try to stop the lawsuit. Even though the consumer repeatedly denied that the loan belonged to her, the callers insisted she send the money or the fax. She was also told to not have an attorney intercede on her behalf. She has received calls as late as 10:00 PM and the scammers have even called her place of employment.
Payday local collection scams have been reported by consumers nationwide. It is believed that the scammers obtain consumers’ personal information from applications filed online for loans. The Cleveland area victim told BBB she had filled out several online loan applications a few months before the collection calls began.
If you receive these calls, do not follow the caller’s instructions. Because the scammers have access to bank account information and social security numbers, victims should consider themselves victims of identity theft and take appropriate precautions:
1. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies and place an alert on your credit report. You can reach the agencies at:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; Experian: 1-888-397-3742; TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;
2. Contact your bank and advise them your account information has been compromised;
3. If the caller has credit card account numbers, contact the credit card companies and close the compromised accounts.; and
4. Monitor bank account statements and credit card bills carefully for any unauthorized transactions.
BBB, the leader in advancing marketplace trust, is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability Reports® and charity BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. BBB can be contacted at www.cleveland.bbb.org or (216) 241-7678.