Collection Agency Scammers are using Scare Tactics to Steal Your Money
The Better Business Bureau alerts consumers of a scam that has resurfaced in the United States regarding attempts to collect money from individuals through threatening phone calls. Consumers tell the BBB they received phone calls from a person identifying himself as Alex Paul and that if they do not pay a debt they are collecting within the next two hours a police officer will come and arrest them.
The con artist claims to be part of the U.S. Cyber Crime Unit (fictitious name) and that if they do not secure the money the consumer will be charged with theft by deception and arrested. The arrest will occur as enforcement officers from the Federal Debt Bureau (fictitious name) are scheduled to come to the consumer’s house or place of business within the next two hours.
These con artists are targeting specific victims and they gained certain information about the victims before calling. “They know addresses, names, places of employment and even social security numbers of the victims. They persist and call relatives, employers and the victims repeatedly in order to wear down the victim and this can be intimidating and frightening to the consumers receiving these calls” said Ross Howard, Vice President of the BBB of Northeast Florida and Southeast Atlantic.
The information regarding the victims appears to be information commonly used by legitimate collection agencies in their work. The con artists have a heavy Indian accent and the calls are originating from a cell phone that is registered in Washington State. In July 2008 this same scam surfaced and was targeting consumers that were once customers of payday loan companies. One consumer in Georgia received the call and was told it was to collect on a payday loan she had taken out 10 years ago. It is important to note that payday loans are illegal in Georgia since April of 2004.
According to the FTC the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) forbids a collection agency from using the threat of arrest to collect money unless a warrant is actually served.
As with any collection call it is important to verify in writing from the caller the legitimacy of the debt. Consumers should ask for written verification. Additionally, the FDCPA stipulates that a consumer may request they stop calling in a letter and the calls have to stop even if it is a legitimate debt however it does not excuse that debt.
With any company such as a debt collection agency verify the company with the BBB. The company may use similar or even the same name as a legitimate agency so confirming the debt with the actual company you incurred the debt is the best way to be certain it is real.
If you believe you are a victim of this scam, notify local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/) immediately. If you gave debit card or credit card numbers contact the financial institution for the card. If you believe you are a victim through email contact IC3 at http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx to file a complaint.
The BBB encourages consumers to participate in the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry (https://www.donotcall.gov/).
Check your credit report to be certain of its accuracy through www.annualcreditreport.com/, a site set up by the big three credit reporting agencies in the United States, to furnish free annual credit reports, as required by federal law.
For more information on FDCPA log on to http://www.bbb.org/us/article/what-are-fair-debt-collection-practices-604.
For more information contact:
Ross Howard | Vice President
Better Business Bureau
Northeast Florida and Southeast Atlantic
Tel: 912-354-7521 X404