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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Denver & Boulder, Colorado
Collection Scams Get Aggressive, Target Local Business
February 01, 2013

Denver, CO – February 1, 2013 – Scams involving phony debt collectors are increasing and according to recent calls made to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Spanish-speakers and seniors are being targeted. Fake debt collectors are trying to extort victims by demanding payment for loans, bills, and even phony court fees.

The son of a local business owner recently reported to the BBB that his mother, whose primary language is Spanish, has been targeted in these scams. She owns a restaurant in Aurora and was contacted by someone who claimed to be a lawyer, and falsely claimed that she had complaints on file with the BBB. The scammer further falsely claimed he would have her restaurant closed down and that his law firm had a court date scheduled for her and a case number, but if she paid a fine immediately, the court date and complaints would be dropped. She was asked to send the fine payment via wire transfer, but thankfully, she did not cooperate.

The BBB has no complaints on file for the restaurant, nor any information on the supposed law firm referenced by the scammer. Legal action is never taken on behalf of the BBB against a company for not responding to BBB complaints.

“When someone gets an unexpected call regarding collection or legal matters, it immediately puts them in a vulnerable position,” said Su Hawk, president and CEO of the BBB of Denver/Boulder. “We are especially concerned that people are falsely making claims via telephone, the BBB’s trusted name is being used to scare victims, and that Spanish speakers and the elderly are being targeted.”

Denver District Attorney, Mitch Morrissey recently released a fraud alert about the same style of scam, saying his office has received several calls about it since the beginning of the year. According to Morrissey, these calls come from “out of the blue” and the callers are particularly nasty, often threatening to send the police out to arrest the victim, or go after a relative of the victim for the money if the victim doesn’t immediately pay up. Morrissey advises, “Remember: you’re in control of the telephone. Hang up—and if they continue to call, call our fraud line.”

What to do if you get a call like this:

  • DO NOT give out your financial or personal information, or send a payment via wire transfer or otherwise—no matter what they say.
  • DO NOT verify information they ask you such as, “Is this your name? Is this your address; Are these the last four digits of your social security number?”
  • If calls become excessive or threats are made, file a police report with your local authorities.
  • Independently verify that you don’t have any outstanding debt.
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): ftc.gov, Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI): Colorado.gov and BBB Scam Stopper: denver.bbb.org/scam-source.
  • Contact the three credit-reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your file:

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About the BBB

The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit 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. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 114 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit www.denver.bbb.org for more information.