Sunday, May 19, 2013
Watchdog: Debt Scam
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- With the downturn in the economy, racking up debt is becoming quite common, but what if you received a call demanding you pay off a debt you didn't even know you had?
There's a good chance the debt is not yours, and this is a scam.
The timing couldn't be better. As the economy continues to struggle, scammers are taking advantage of Americans struggling with debt.
They're hoping to pull the wool over your eyes, that you'll agree to pay off a debt you don't even have.
Carri Lybarker with the state Department of Consumer Affairs says the scam starts with a phone call, at home or at work demanding personal information and a check by phone to clear you of this debt.
Sound suspicious? Lybarker says to first check your credit report to see if the debt appears there. Next, check your mail.
"Because third party debt collectors have to send you by law something in writing telling you the amount of debt that you owe and where it's originating from and giving you the right to dispute your debt. Again, this is with third party debt collectors only. Original creditors don't have to send that, but if it's an original creditor, they're more likely then not contacting you directly, and you're aware that you owe that debt."
Lybarker says to be warned. Government agencies don't attempt to collect debt on behalf of others.
"They want to intimidate you to make you feel that if you don't collect this right now, we're going to throw you in prison, or we're the attorney general's office, and we're collecting your debt. All these different spins that we've seen on this scam trying to get people to go ahead and make a payment over the phone because then not only do they have your money, they have your credit card number, your debit card number, or if you do a check by phone, your checking account number."
If you receive a call, first check your credit report, and then check your mail. If you still feel you're being targeted in a scam, check in with the state Department of Consumer Affairs to alert them of your situation.
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