When you are in debt, sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of who you owe money, because creditors get bought out, change names, and turn the debt over to collection agencies or law firms. Con artists are taking advantage of this fact.
Dozens of people have called Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division to report calls from scammers posing as debt collectors calling to harass and intimidate them, sometimes even at work.
“Don’t fall for these calls from crooks demanding that you pay phony debts,” Cooper said. “Never agree to share your personal information with someone you don’t know who calls you, no matter how convincing they sound.”
The callers often use fake names designed to sound like a law firm or government agency.
Recently, Cooper warned consumers about similar harassing calls from scammers claiming to be with law enforcement. Those callers, from the nonexistent “Federal State Bureau of North Carolina,” threaten to arrest consumers who don’t pay.
Investigators are trying to determine how the scammers get consumers’ personal information, but several consumers say the calls began after they applied for loans or credit cards online. Some getting get the calls owe money on Internet payday loans, but many people who get the calls haven’t taken out a payday loan.
Consumers should follow these simple rules to avoid being scammed by phony debt collectors:
- Never give out your personal information, such as bank account and credit card data, to anyone you don’t know.
- Check your credit reports for free at www.annualcreditreport.com or 1-877-322-8228 to spot any unauthorized credit cards or loans taken out in your name.
- Consider a free security freeze to block unauthorized use of your credit.
- If you get one of these calls after completing an online application, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.
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