Recently, I have heard several people say that they have received phone calls that threaten criminal prosecution unless they call and make payments arrangements. Then, a few days ago, I got a phone call that said there are serious allegations pressed against me and that I must call back to discuss this before legal actions are taken against me. This is a scam. Unfortunately, sometimes it works.
The call is very threatening, usually, pre-recorded and leaves a number to call back. However, this is not a valid collection tactic. Creditor calls, or attempts to collect by third parties are not criminal matters. You cannot be arrested, as an attempt to collect a debt, and creditors are not allowed to use the police or other law enforcement to aid in the collection of debts. These scare tactics usually don’t even come from legitimate creditors. There are very much a scam and simply trying to scare people into providing bank account or credit card information in order to rip you off.
Please don’t fall for these illegal methods. Any legitimate creditor or debt collector should be able to provide basic information about any account, including to whom the debt is owed, an account number and a balance. They should be able to give you a phone number and physical address. They should be able to provide you with their company name and the name of the person to whom you are speaking. Without this basic information, you should be very suspicious of those calls, and you should not provide any financial information.
If, the time comes, that you do have the misfortune to be involved in a criminal matter, you will not be notified by an automated call. The criminal process is very different, and usually involves a warrant or a summons. Neither of which are sent to you by telephone, but both are very serious.
What everybody needs to know, is that there are rules that must be followed in order for creditors to collect debts. You don’t have to know all of those rules, but you should be leery of phone call that threatens criminal action or any caller that cannot provide simple account and creditor information.
By Addam Fera, W M Law Attorney