There’s a new scam being perpetrated on the public and fraud fighting organizations across the country are beginning to report on it with alarming frequency. It involves fake debt collectors who call and harass family members and friends of their “target”. What they rely on is fear of course, including social pressure and fear that a person will lose their job. Unfortunately their scam works quite well and continues to grow.
The biggest reason that they’re successful is that the average person doesn’t know what their debt collection rights actually are. One of the most important rights states that debt collectors are not legally allowed to give any details of their debt collection activities to someone other than the actual debtor him or herself.
Simply put, anyone who calls you and discloses information about a friend, family member or anyone else who isn’t you is using illegal practices to pressure you, even if they are actually a legitimate debt collector. Not only is this a scam but it’s also a violation of that person’s rights, and yours.
The losses aren’t small either, to be sure. Between October of last year and June of this year, victims of this scam lost an average of just over $1700.
In many cases what happens is that a scammer somehow acquires a consumer’s home and work information, oftentimes from bogus payday loan applications. Even worse is that if someone has successfully been defrauded, their information is then sold to other aspiring criminals who are looking for an “easy mark”. These victims are then subjected to repeated fraud attempts because they’ve been put on a “sucker list”.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of collection fraud of this kind, or suspect that someone has tried to defraud you in this way, you should alert everyone in your circle of friends, your family and your coworkers. That way if they receive any debt collection calls they will know immediately that scammers are trying to put one over on them.
The most important thing that you need to do when you get any type of phone call from a collection agency, or someone purporting to be a collection agent, is to confirm the legitimacy of their collections account before paying any money whatsoever. Also, you should never provide any type of payment information to any debt collector, real or fake, over the phone.
The good people at Fraud.org also warn that applying for so-called payday loans online is extremely risky, because you may expose personal information about yourself to fraudsters. Not only that but payday loans usually carry much higher fees and rates than the same type of loans that are acquired traditionally.