Jun 22, 2010 1:22 PM by Greg Boyce
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Tuesday his office has received reports of fraudulent and threatening debt-collection calls. The calls often involve a supposed payday loan debt consumers have allegedly incurred. The callers, who resort to threatening tactics, use a variety of business names and have even invoked the Office of the Attorney General or the name of the Attorney General to swindle consumers.
"Consumers have reported to us that these debt-collection fraudsters are employing a variety of tactics in an attempt to commit theft," Suthers said. "Colorado law affords consumers protections against fraudulent or abusive debt collectors. Consumers should not hesitate to report any instances of debt-related fraud or threats."
According to the complaints, the fraudulent debt collectors threaten consumers with legal action unless they make immediate payment of their debts. The callers, whom consumers report have a variety of foreign accents, often claim to be an "officer" and have basic personal information about the consumers they contact, including their name, address and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Consumers report that the calls come from a variety of area codes, likely indicating that they originate from overseas.
They reportedly use a variety of generic and government-sounding company names, including:
Affidavit Consolidation Services
American Law Division
Crime Protection & Investigation
Cyber Crime Division
Department of Law & Investigations
Federal Fraud Investigations
Federal Investigations Company
Federal Crime Investigations
Criminal Bureau of Identity
National Affidavit Processing Center/Department
National Bureau of Crime Investigations
National Check Restitution
National Criminal Center
United Client Suspect Department
United Financial Crime Department
United Nation Legal Department
U.S. Crime Suspect Department
U.S. Justice Department/Payday Loan Division
According to the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section, consumers should bear in mind when they deal with debt collection agencies:
If a collection agency or debt collector threatens you in any way, hang up and file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.
If a collection agency or debt collector declines to provide you with a record of the debt, hang up and file a complaint.
If you dispute a debt a collection agency attributed to you in a timely fashion, the collection agency must provide some proof that you actually owe the debt before contacting you again.
If you would like to have a collection agency stop calling you at work or home, you must send a letter to the collection agency. A phone call is not sufficient. Once a collection agency receives your letter, they are barred from contacting you.
If you inform a debt collector that you are not the subject of the debt, they must stop calling you.
You do not have a right to make partial payments unless the collection agency agrees to such an arrangement.
When dealing with debt collectors, keep copies of all of your correspondence, including any payments.
After you have asked a debt collection agency to stop contacting you, for whatever reason, they may only contact you via a lawsuit.
Consumers who believe they have been defrauded or harassed by a debt collection agency, real or fake, should file a complaint online, over the phone via 303-866-5304 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Consumers also should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online, over the phone via 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or through the mail via Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.