Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fake Bill Collector Scam!

There I was on my day off, relaxing and enjoying some time with my wife. Catching up on The Hatfields & McCoys that we DVR'd, when I get a text message.

The message read: "You've had ample notice & ignored your obligation. You have 4 hrs to call 888-699-9726 to pay or it goes out for legal/civil action. A14214."

I was surprised to say the least. I don't have any obligations that I correspond with via text messaging. The last time I had an account that would text me was my car note, which by the way, I paid off and have the title for the car OVER A YEAR AGO. They would only text me to remind me of my due date each month, which I actually appreciated.

This brings up a couple of issues:

1 - They didn't put my name or any other identifying information in the text message. How do they know if it's even the RIGHT PERSON they are texting with this information?

2 - It is a violation of the FDCPA for a collection agency to reveal information of that nature via text messaging, especially when they don't have permission (I didn't sign up for it) to send the information.

3 - Threatening legal action is illegal according to the FDCPA.

4 - No listing of the original creditor or the name of their company? Illegal as well.

I Googled the phone number and what do you know? Nothing but complaints from people that got the same text messages. Some of those poor people actually called the number and made arrangements to pay this supposed debt. These poor people actually allowed a company that violated their rights access to their accounts to debit the funds this 'company' says they owe.

I read of several instances where this 'company' told people that they couldn't pay via money order but that they had to pay via CC or bank account. FRAUD. Anyone knows that collection agencies MUST accept payment for a debt in whatever form you choose to send it. This same company also refused to give these people their address or contact information, stating that: " If you don't make arrangements now, we will file suit and you will have to pay back 10x the amount." So, a "debt" of say $300 now becomes $3000? NOT LEGAL.

Several things you should look out for when dealing with anyone that says you owe them money:

1 - In writing, send them a Validation of Debt letter. You can find many examples of this just by googling it.

2 - Demand that they give you their address, registered agent and the original creditor when you speak with them.

3 - Do NOT make any arrangements to pay anything UNTIL they have validated the debt to YOUR satisfaction.

4 - Understand your rights: Read the FDCPA (Fair debt collection practices act)

5 - It is ILLEGAL for a collector to call you before 8am and after 9pm.

6 - It is ILLEGAL for a collector to threaten you in any way.

7 - It is ILLEGAL for a collector to call you and harass you.

8 - It is ILLEGAL for a collector to divulge ANY information about the debt to anyone but the debtor.

9 - When asked, the collector MUST give you their address and all contact information.

10 - Collectors MUST accept payment from you in whatever form you choose to send it. They cannot demand any specific type of payment.

If you ever have questions or feel that you are being abused by a collector, contact your local Attorney Generals office and let them know what is happening. As an added bonus, any time they violate the FDCPA, it's $1500 to YOU!

Document when they violate your rights, keep track and you can beat back the cheats!

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