North Carolina Department of Justice
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Debt collection scams heating up, AG Cooper warns

Release date: 6/24/2011

Consumers who’ve applied for credit online appear to be targets

Raleigh:  North Carolina consumers are reporting a spike in calls from fraudulent debt collectors, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
 
“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.”
 
Dozens of North Carolinians are calling Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division to report calls from scammers posing as debt collectors. Consumers describe these calls as harassing and intimidating. The scammers often call repeatedly, even contacting people at work. 
 
The callers often use phony names designed to sound like a law firm or government agency. Just last week, Cooper warned consumers about similar harassing calls from scammers claiming to be with law enforcement. Those callers, from the “Federal State Bureau of North Carolina,” threaten to arrest consumers who don’t pay.
 
The various scammers who are behind the calls appear to be located overseas. They operate by obtaining people’s personal information and then using it to try to trick them into paying money for debts they don’t really owe. 
 
Investigators are trying to determine how the scammers get consumers’ personal information, but several consumers say that the calls began after they applied online for loans or credit cards. Some of the people who get the calls owe money on Internet payday loans, but many people who get the calls haven’t taken out a payday loan. 
 
If you get calls demanding that you pay a debt that you don’t think you owe, keep the following tips in mind:
 
  • Never give out your personal information, such as bank account and credit card information, to anyone you don’t know who contacts you.
  • 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 having completed an online application, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.   
  • Remember that legitimate debt collectors should be able to provide you with written proof of a debt. They are not allowed to use profanity or threaten you with violence or arrest, and they must follow rules about when and how they contact you.
  • Consumers can report complaints about debt collection scams as well as legitimate debt collectors to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or visit www.ncdoj.gov .

  Contact:  Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413