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3 on the Radar: Fake Collection Calls, Phishing Scams and Fake Traffic Ticket Invoices via Email

8/30/2011

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LAW ENFORCEMENT AND BBB WARN

Three on the Radar

Fake and/or Highly Questionable Collection Calls

IRS Fake “We can’t process your Refund” Emails Continue

Fake Traffic Tickets Emailed Contain Virus in Attachment

Both law enforcement and BBB are hearing about similar scam scenarios in recent days. Since our reports and calls overlap in relevancy and content, we wish to warn you about them:

Fake and/or Highly Questionable Collection Calls

Debt collection complaints to BBB have been on the rise in 2011, mostly due to the economy, as well as a number of questionable debt collection services overstepping boundaries and breaking “rules of engagement” regarding debt collections. With both parties desperate for the same $$, this creates a perfect hotbed for scammers to use the industry to attempt to collect bogus debts. It also creates an atmosphere where some legitimate collectors are bending rules and pushing boundaries with their collecting tactics to see how far they can pressure. While in a legitimate debt collecting situation, collectors have the rightful job of collecting, and debtors have a responsibility to make payments, what happens when you are harassed by a scam collector who won’t STOP harassing, even in the workplace?

Here are two types of scenarios we are hearing about:

Scenario #1

Collection agencies from Maine, NY, and CA call victims claiming:

*you have a debt that needs to be paid or civil and criminal sanctions will be sought

*a great deal about you, including past indiscretions, and personal and/or financial information

*(sometimes) a very old past issue that needs repayment, making it look urgent and legitimate NOW *just about anything, whether true or false, to try to convince you that you have a debt

*the ONLY method of repayment to them is via your debit card

These reports are significantly increasing. To add to confusion, scammers are spoofing phone numbers to make the incoming calls look like they are from legitimate agencies. According to law enforcement, just last week, two local Spokane collection agencies had their numbers spoofed for the purpose of scamming.

Scenario #2

Here is a scenario we received from a person who is being harassed at work about a bogus debt that doesn’t even exist:

We have been receiving harassing phone calls for a good month now at our place of employment. Caller goes by the name of “Marcus Jim from Legal.” He tells me that I am being sued for social security fraud. He was able to state my full name, address, phone number and the last four of my social security number. He said if I settled out of court and made payment arrangements with him, that would take care of everything. He wanted me to write down on a piece of paper my full name and address, phone number, full social security number, debit card number (with security code on back) , what payment arrangement we will set up, and the wording, “I, my name, promise to pay such and such…” I was to sign it and fax it to a number he gave me. This caller has been harassing and threatening my boss and HR Department on a daily basis multiple times a day. If I cannot get rid of this man my job is in jeopardy.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AS A DEBTOR AND THEIR RIGHTS AS COLLECTORS

Knowledge is power. If you don’t know your rights, that’s almost like not having any. The Federal Trade Commission oversees collection issue matters, and has this comprehensive piece available: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm

BOISE BBB’s President Relays Fake Collection Call Reports and Warns here:

http://www.idahopress.com/blogs/business_to_business/dale_dixon_-_better_business_bureau/fake-debt-collectors-scare-victims-out-of-money/article_3b52ea66-a1ac-11e0-ab0f-001cc4c002e0.html

BBB TIPS

BBB offers the following advice if you receive a suspicious telephone call about an outstanding debt:

• Ask the debt collector to provide official documentation to substantiate the debt. Debt collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. If the self-proclaimed collector won’t provide information, hang up.

• Do not provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have confirmed the legitimacy of the call.

• Check your credit report by going to annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228 to check and determine your outstanding debts or any suspicious activity. If the scammer does have a great deal of personal information, place a fraud alert on your credit report.

• A collection agency must be licensed in WA, Montana and Idaho. If they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or do not have a license, file a complaint with the proper agencies in your state that regulate collection agencies. In ID: Department of Finance; In WA: Department of Financial Institutions; in Montana, file with the Montana Attorney General’s Office.

• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online if the caller is abusive, uses threats or otherwise violates federal telemarketing laws.

Bottom line: Don’t hesitate to turn to the BBB to file a complaint and gain peace of mind if you believe a debt collector is trying to scam you.

IRS and FDIC PHISHING EMAILS CIRCULATE

IRS “Can’t Process Your Refund” Emails
FDIC “ACH and Wire Transactions have been Suspended”

Fake IRS emails are circulating saying that the persons taxes could not be processed and to send in all pertinent information to a bogus entity. Details here: http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=179820,00.html

We are also seeing an FDIC email scam re-circulating stating to businesses that their ACH and Wire Transactions have been suspended. Details here: http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/SpecialAlert/2011/sa11021.html

FAKE TRAFFIC TICKET EMAILS CIRCULATING
Requires You to Open Attachment and Pay Remittance, DON’T

We have seen fake traffic ticket emails from New York State Dept of Motor Vehicles with an address to send your personal info and fine to:

Town Court
Chatam Hall
PO Box 117 NY
no zip code listed

WARNING

Here’s how the scam works. The email contains an attachment which you are to open and print off, and get back to them with remittance of payment. BBB CAUTION: Do NOT open this attachment—it is an exe. File and may contain a virus that can damage or compromise your computer.

Details concerning this scam:

http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=15519145

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