Debt Collector Scams And How To Avoid Them
A sour economy means one thing: the most dishonest and creepiest people are fast at work, contriving ways to steal money from the unsuspecting consumer. One scam now going on in West Virginia should catch the attention of anyone who has had a payday loan in the past: some
so-called “debt collectors” are calling people up and demanding payment on loans, loans which have long been paid off or were never taken out.
Representing Fake Companies or Organizations
According to West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw, one particular band of scam artists is calling people up and telling them that they represent U.S. National Bank, Federal Investigation Bureau, United Legal Processing, or some other phony named organization. No real names or addresses are used and it is thought that the heavily accented English speaking callers may be calling from overseas.
Posing as law enforcement officers, bankers, investigators, and lawyers, the callers threaten to have the person arrested for committing “bank fraud” or some other alleged, but ficticious crime. They’ll usually underscore their threats by saying that they’re “filing an affadavit against you” or “we’re downloading warrants against you.” In some cases the callers are stating that “only God can help you now.”
West Virgina’s Attorney General Speaks Out
Attorney General McGraw stated, “Ordinarily my office protects consumers from fraudulent activities by seeking injunctions in court. But legal action cannot be taken until the scam artists can be located. Even then, it is unlikely that the persons behind the fraudulent calls and extortionist threats would obey a court order. In this case, the consumer’s best defense is to be armed with the knowledge of the scam so that all demands for money can be resisted, despite the false but scarey threats of arrest.”
McGraw added, “Because the fraudsters make a special point of calling consumers repeatedly at work, employers must understand that the consumers are innocent victims of a criminal enterprise and cannot stop the calls from coming. I also wish to assure the citizens of West Virginia that my office will continue to do everything possible to locate and shut down the outlaw debt collectors.”
How To File A Complaint
Consumers in West Virginia and elsewhere are being urged to not respond to these threats. Instead, they are being advised to visit a special site the state has set up to follow this scam at http://www.wvago.gov/internetloanscam.cfm. In addition, consumers can call the Consumer Protection Hot Line, 1-800-368-8808, or by obtain a complaint form from the Attorney General’s web site.
For residents of other states, contact your state’s Attorney General’s office for guidance.