Contact Kim: Debt collection scams

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The Better Business Bureau is warning you about a bogus debt scam targeting people in the Tennessee Valley. People are getting calls from scammers claiming you owe them a debt, and the caller on the other line threatens to have you picked up if you don't pay up. Most people will go to great lengths to protect their credit and good name, and that is what some scammers are banking on.

Out of the blue, the victim receives a threatening phone call. "They will tell them that they are about to be arrested because they have an outstanding debt," explained Michele Mason with the BBB. "But if they will work with them, they can negotiate a price that you will pay, and that will avoid your being arrested."

In the most recent scenario, the victim receives a call from someone who claims they are about to come and serve a summons for their arrest, but they give an 800 number for the person to call. When you call, you hear a recording which prompts you to press 1 if you would like to negotiate an outstanding debt.

"These are bogus collections," warned Mason. "They are going to try to get you to second-guess yourself and think that maybe you do have an outstanding debt. And to avoid any arrest or a bad mark on your credit report, they are going to hope you will go ahead and try to negotiate something with them."

You could be paying hundreds of dollars for a debt you do not owe. "In a lot of cases, they are going to try to get you to wire the money because that won't leave a paper trail, but in some cases they want this quickly, so they may ask for a credit card number," said Mason.

Once they have your number, they can immediately use it to shop online and make purchases. "If you owe a debt, this company contacting you should be able to provide you with proof of the debt in writing," said Mason. "Ask them to mail you proof of the debt. If they are not willing to do that, then you should feel no obligation to pay it."

Michele added that if someone actually does come to your door with a summons, you would have ample opportunity to defend yourself. She said what they're finding with this particular scam is that once they ask you to provide documentation, they hang up.

More information about phone collection scams can be found at the BBB's website.

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