Imagine getting a call from India and being told to pay $500 on a suspicious debt or you’d be imprisoned and fired from your job.
That’s the situation more than 10,000 Americans found themselves in over the past two years, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The calls supposedly originated from the Federal Department of Crime and Prevention, a completely bogus federal organization that does exist. In reality, they actually came from India.
It turns out the criminal ring orchestrating this scam actually hired Indian telemarketers to place at least 20 million calls to people. The telemarketers typically demanded $500 of people, though some were asked for up to $2,000.
Even though the supposed debts were completely fictitious, millions and millions of Americans apparently paid tens of thousands of dollars to get these people off their backs. The ringleaders have not, to my knowledge, been arrested. And the FTC thinks they’re just at the tip of the iceberg on this scam.
Know that you do have rights when you’re contacted about a debt. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when dealing with collectors:
- Always record any calls from/to a collector.
- If your debt is outside the statute of limitations, you are not required to pay up. However, you should honor your obligations when you’re financially able to do so.
- You have the right to tell a collector never to contact you again. Use a drop dead letter and send it via certified mail. You can still, however, be sued against the debt even after sending this letter.
- If you legitimately owe money and wish to make a deal to pay, never give a collector your checking account number over the phone. Collectors routinely take more money than they say they’ll take.
- Never pay one cent until you have an agreement in writing stating your payment(s) will resolve the debt in full.