I had an early morning call from a distraught college student. This is no ordinary college student. This one is the fifty-four year old variety. They take things very seriously. Today she has an exam. Stressful? You bet, but that was not the problem. For the past four days she has been dogged by someone claiming to collect a payday loan.
Today the ordeal took a whole new turn. This telephone collector started by telling her that she works for an attorney and that she is not a collector because he bought the bill. (wrong!) She claimed that the woman owed $1300 and then she let loose with this:
- The student has until 10am to pay the bill.
- If the bill is not paid by that time she would issue a warrant to the attorney general
- The warrant will order the student be picked up and taken directly jail.
- No more chance for payment. Just go to jail.
Would such a conversation bother you? It scared her. What did she do? First she called her daughter. The daughter gave mom her credit card information to prevent her from being arrested. The daughter said none of this sounded right and that mom should call the Ohio Attorney General first. The Ohio AG told her not to pay these people. Since there is more than one attorney general in the United States, She searched further. Google brought her to me. My advice is remarkably similar to the attorney general’s.
This is a pure and simple scam. Everything that is happening to this woman is a clear violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Why then is this happening? The caller is not in the United States. They are an off shore operation. The original creditor likely has no knowledge it is happening, although I have seen it before with the same type of creditor. I have seen clients who have had all their debt discharged in bankruptcy face the exact same tactics.
How can you tell it is a scam if it is happening to you?
- In America you aren’t arrested for not paying a bill.
- If there is court action a summons is issued in a lawsuit, not a warrant.
- The attorney general doesn’t care if you are in debt unless it is to the State of Ohio.
- For a consumer debt you don’t go to jail if you can’t pay by a certain time.
Be sensitive to the manner of speech. Is the grammar just not quite right? Are they describing legal procedures that don’t sound American? Are they talking about consequences beyond lawsuit, garnishment or liens? If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t, especially if they say you can be arrested for not paying a bill.
Collections can be very difficult to deal with even if done legally. If you are receiving collection calls, isn’t it time you decide to file bankruptcy?
The woman specifically wanted me to write about her experience hoping it will save others from living with the same fear she suffered because of this collection tactic.