The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central SC and Charleston is warning seniors to be aware of scam debt collectors. The BBB has received an unusually high volume of phone calls in the last several days. The BBB advises seniors not to give in to harassing calls from fake debt collectors who try to pressure you into paying money that you don’t owe. Scammers are being more deceptive than ever, and this perennial scam is back.
How the Scam Works
The scam involves scammers calling consumers and informing them they will be arrested by local law enforcement in the immediate future if they do not immediately remit payment for a payday loan they took out months or even years prior.
In most cases, residents have never even taken out these loans, but the BBB has received reports of people paying hundreds of dollars to avoid the possibility of arrest.
These callers are also persistent and violate state and federal phone collection laws by calling at all hours of the day and night to home, cell and work numbers.
Scammers do this in order to either annoy residents at home or embarrass innocent employees at their work place in order to pressure them into paying in order to stop the harassment and threat of possible job loss.
The best protection against debt collection scams is simply knowing your rights
What You Need to Know
• Ask the debt collector to provide official “validation notice” of the debt. Debt collectors are required by law to provide the information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and a statement of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the self-proclaimed collector won’t provide the information, hang up.
• If you think that a caller may be a fake, ask for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Then, confirm that the collection agency is real.
• Do not provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have verified the call.
• Check your credit report by going to annualcreditreport.com or calling (877) 322-8228. This will help you determine if you have outstanding debts or if there has been suspicious activity under your name. If the scammer has a great deal of personal information about you, be safe and place a fraud alert on your credit report.