Unfortunately, I have to turn away over half the people who call me because they are getting called by scam artists. There are many scam artists out there who have copies of Oklahoma residents’ credit reports. Using this information, and telephone contact information for the consumer (including their parent’s and relative’s contact information) obtained from public information databases such as 123people.com or Intelius.com, these scam artists are able to sound extremely convincing, with loads of personal information about other debts owed by the consumer, often resulting in credit card payments being made to them over the phone to “avoid immediate arrest.”
The FTC has a page dedicated to the issue of fake debt collectors located here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0258-fake-debt-collectors. Additionally, there are many other warnings issued by other state attorney generals regarding debt collection scams such as the one issued by the Michigan Attorney General located here: http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17337-238041–,00.html.
This scam typically goes like this, a fake debt collector obtains a copy of the consumer’s credit report, possibly from payday or online loan companies that they consumer has used. The scam artist then locates an old debt that the consumer may or may not have repaid. Using information of telephone numbers obtained from public record databases, the scam artist debt collector begins making calls to the consumer or their parents advising that they are about to “issue immediate process” or have obtained an arrest warrant for fraud against the consumer and a deputy is en route. These calls continue until the consumer or their parents call the scam artist out on the scam. Once this happens, in my experience, once this happens, the calls immediately stop, and the scammer moves on to the next “target.”
Though this is not always true, I have found that a common thread of this scam is that the consumer has at one point in their life taken out a “payday” loan, Many times, the consumer reports to me that he or she has repaid the loan long ago in full. However, this does not matter, as these scam artists do not always try to collect on the payday loan, they often state that they are calling about old credit card debt, old telephone bills, virtually anything that would be found on a credit report, and that the consumer would recognize as once having owed.
One of the purposes that Congress intended in enacting the FDCPA was to “insure that those debt collectors who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses.” A real advantage of the FDCPA is the ability to distinguish fake debt collectors from legitimate debt collection agencies. If there is no bright line to distinguish these crooks from legitimate companies, then consumers are severely disadvantaged. Oklahoma is currently without a state debt collection law requiring registration of debt collectors as licensed businesses. I would encourage calling your legislators from your district and the Oklahoma Attorney General to ask them to promote the enactment of such a law, as many other states, and even municipalities have done.
If you have been the victim of a debt collection scam, here’s How to Report Scam Artists. The Oklahoma Attorney General has set up an online form to report here: http://www.oag.state.ok.us/oagweb.nsf/ccomp.html