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How Do I Handle a Scam Call?

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2011 | Identity Theft

In these unsettled economic times you cannot help but hear about the variety of scams inflicted upon people who are in debt because of unemployment or mortgage debt. Scammers offer fixes that are too good to be true or try to confuse you into giving them personal information in order to assist you. One recent scam concerns collectors of supposed old pay day loans who call and use extremely aggressive tactics to collect a debt. There are stories of threats of jail or immediate lawsuits, demands of immediate payment for the full amount as well as instances of calls to friends, family or your job. Often these scam artists will be secretive about their company name; if they do give a company name, often times they make it sound like it is some kind of government agency – my favorite is National Fraud Affidavit. So what do you when someone calls you promising to fix your financial troubles?

Do not give them any information that would allow them to get money from you.

  • Do not give out your bank account and routing number.
  • Do not give out your credit card number – even if they promise not to take any money and that they just want a “show of good faith” from you.
  • Write down the names of the people calling you and get their phone numbers.
  • Be stern and confidently tell them that you will not be paying them any money unless they provide a letter on their letterhead as to who they are, where they are, exactly how much money they claim you owe, and who the original creditor is.

Chances are they will refuse this request rather rudely and step up their assault. That’s okay, don’t panic. There is a good chance that these companies are either trying to pull off a scam or are otherwise engaging in improper business activities; if they don’t give you a real company name and location chances are they aren’t real company. Many of these companies do not incorporate under the laws of any state, they have no company assets or capital, and they do not have any other real business structure. For that reason, they feel comfortable blatantly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because there is no business to bring to court.

Our experience has taught us that the more you aggressively tell them that there is no way they are getting any money from you, the quicker they will just give up on calling you. Finally, take the information you have on them, the phone number on the caller ID and the name they gave you, and report it to your local Attorney General’s office.  Though we cannot expect the Attorney General to locate and prosecute each case of this that comes across their desks, enough complaints of the same pattern may spark some interest in a more wide range investigation, and put an end to illegal tactics for good.

Larry P. Smith is a consumer attorney and the founder and Managing Partner at SmithMarco, P.C. He has tried dozens of consumer rights cases to verdict and has arbitrated over 700 cases. Additionally, he has amicably resolved over 3,000 consumer fraud, Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cases via settlement. Mr. Smith has been a guest on multiple radio outlets including WLS and WGN in Chicago providing consumer advice. Mr. Smith also provides leadership and delivers lectures to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, The National Consumer Law Center, and the Chicago Bar Association. Latest posts by Larry Smith (see all)