Beware of Fraudulent Debt Collections Scams!
OLA Consumer Fraud Alert
In an effort to ensure consumer choice for credit in these difficult economic times, the Online Lenders Alliance (OLA) is issuing this Fraud Alert so that consumers and agencies can be informed about phony debt collection scams.
Scam artists pretending to be legitimate debt collectors or law enforcement officials are terrorizing consumers, causing unsuspecting victims to lose thousands of dollars, in direct violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). OLA has been working with Federal, State and local agencies in an attempt to bring these individuals to justice.
Victims say that these phony debt collectors are calling people at home and work, threatening them with arrests for debts that are not owed. These individuals generally claim they are working for a U.S. National Bank, Federal Investigation Bureau, United Legal Processing and several other official sounding agencies.
They speak with heavy foreign accents and even will claim to be celebrities in some cases. For example, one claimed to be Denzel Washington whereas another claimed to be calling from Steve Martin's office.
These individuals will refuse to give their real names, pertinent company information and valid physical locations of their offices. They also will supply completely bogus rationale for why you have not heard of their divisions within certain companies or government agencies.
The callers claim that the "victim” has defaulted on a loan which the consumer may not have even received or has already paid back. These scammers may have information about you and the area in which you live. The scammers may use abusive language and threaten that if you don’t immediately send them money, you will be arrested.
Legitimate collections calls do not use threatening language and do not threaten you with arrest.
If you do receive a collections call:
- Ask the debt collector to provide official documentation or information that verifies the debt, including the amounts owed and the dates of the transaction.
- Do not confirm bank account information or other personal information until you have verified that the collector is legitimate and that you have an actual debt outstanding.
- If you are uncertain or are being threatened with arrest, take down the information and call the company that provided the loan. Do not call the number provided by the "scammers.”
- If you suspect that the call is not legitimate, please gather as much information as possible during the call (caller ID, collector’s name, company name, company phone number) and call the lender to report that you have received a threatening call. If you determine that the call is not legitimate, report the call to your local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov.
Consumers should know that OLA is very concerned about this scam. We have been working with law enforcement and other government agencies to try to stop these scam artists. Your help in reporting these unscrupulous people is most appreciated.
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