By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
Every day, dozens of Kansans call our office to report scams or potential fraudulent activities. In the past few months, we have received an increasing number of complaints regarding debt collection scams.
It can be a scary phone call to receive. The caller will often make repeated calls – sometimes even to your workplace – claiming to be from a collection agency trying to collect money owed on a payday loan. In some cases, the scam artist has somehow acquired a list of past payday loan customers. But, in many cases the person being called has never taken out a payday loan. Even after informing the caller that you do not owe the debt, they keep calling.
Usually, the caller will tell you that you need to make a portion of the payment immediately, or you will be arrested. The caller will ask for your credit card or bank account information to process they payment. This is just a trick to get you to give the scammer access to your accounts.
Our Consumer Protection investigators have traced most of the calls to overseas. Unfortunately, that means that it is difficult for law enforcement officials to find them and shut them down. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of this scam is simply to ignore the calls. Here are a few other ways you can stay safe:
- Don’t answer calls from numbers you do not know. If you have caller ID, only answer calls from people you know. Legitimate debt collectors will leave a message about how to return their call.
- Ask for verification in writing. Federal law requires debt collectors to send you written notice, including how much you owe, the name of the creditor and what action to take if you wish to dispute the debt.
- Report the number to your phone company. If you receive repeated, harassing phone calls from the same phone number, call you phone company and ask them to block that number from contacting you.
- Never give out personal information over the phone. Keep your credit card and bank account numbers safe, and never share them over the phone with someone you do not know.
- Check your credit report. If you receive calls to collect a debt you do not owe, there’s a chance your identity has been stolen. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of your report from the three major credit bureaus once a year, and contact them right away if you see an account you do not recognize.
If you believe you have been a victim of this or any other scam, please contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling (800) 432-2310, or visit our website at www.ag.ks.gov to file a complaint.