Monday, October 29, 2012

LATEST SCAM: Pay Up or Go To Jail

“Pay Up, or you are Going To Jail!!” 

Have you ever received a phone call like this one from a credit collection agency. As you may have already guessed, this is a clear violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and may be a criminal violation of federal and/or state code depending on the debtor, such as a handicapped or elderly person.

Recently, a client of mine received such a phone call. The person left a message on a voice mail system stating my client would go to jail if the funds were not paid today, and left a return number. It appeared on the surface this person had a lot of nerve. Not only does it appear the person was committing a clear violation of the Federal Code, but had the nerve to leave the message on voice mail.

What would you do if you received such a call? Would you call them back? Would you call an attorney?  Would you file bankruptcy ASAP? 

In this particular situation, my client called the creditor, instead of the call-back number, to find out why jail was being threatened.  After all, clearly credit collection companies, also known as debt collectors, can not make such statements.  This is also out of character for this particular creditor, with whom my client has had a good business relationship.

 It turns out, the creditor had never given this account to a credit collection company for collection. The creditor has no idea how anyone was able to obtain person information about my client, and assured my client they would never threaten jail for not paying.

How is this a scam? 

It appears the call originated from over seas, as when the number left on the voice mail was returned, the person on the other end of the phone spoke with an accent. The person also refused to disclose the name of their company.

In short, this was a SCAM. Someone overseas found out my client owed a particular creditor money, and was able to obtain my client's phone number. When my client asked for the name of the company, the person on the other end hung up. Had the conversation continued, I imagine the scam artist would have asked for personal information, such as bank account numbers, date of birth, social security number, etc.

So, if someone calls you with a threat that could lead you to disclosing personal information, call your creditor and find out what is really going on. It could be a scam attempting to get you to disclose personal information. Don't disclose personal information when you do not initiate the call from a number you have independently of any number left on a recording device.

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