It has come to the attention of the payday loan giant, Advance America, that it recently has become a target of scam debt collectors. This scam is being carried out by individuals posing as representatives of the company looking to collect “unpaid” debts from unsuspecting consumers and offering fictitious pre-approved loans for a small fee.
In late December of 2014 through the present, Illinois residents have been targeted hard by fictitious employees of this payday loan company, demanding payment of non-existent loans and threatening arrest or legal action if payment is not made. Furthermore, the scam artists are offering to sell payday loans by requiring the consumer to purchase a prepaid debit card over the phone or to wire money to cover the processing fees and to make an initial deposit.
In their defense, consumers are encouraged to follow a few tactics to help ensure their safety and privacy and avoid these scam artists. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) debt collectors are prohibited from using conduct that is unfair or abusive when attempting to collect a debt and conduct in violation of the statute can result in legal action. This conduct includes, but is not limited to, threatening arrest or legal action when there is no legitimate intention of filing. When a collector threatens a consumer with criminal prosecution or jail, it should raise a red flag to the consumer that the collector is illegitimate and in violation of the FDCPA.
To avoid a scam, there are a few simple rules that consumers should follow. First and foremost, never give personal information, including your social security number, bank account number or debt account number to a collector. A legitimate collector should have this information prior to contacting you and should be able to provide you with this information. If you are unsure about a collector’s legitimacy, do a little research about the company the collector is allegedly calling from. Check on line for any websites that seem to identify the company, its mission and its principals; check the secretary of state’s website in that state to see if it has registered as a corporation or LLC.; and if you can obtain a business address, run that address through Google maps to see if there appears to be a business there or, instead, a UPS Store or some other mailbox drop location. Also, you can contact the original creditor to make sure the debt and/or collector is legitimate.
Second, never wire money or purchase a pre-paid debit card from a collector. Always make sure you have something in writing prior to making a payment. A collector can wait for your payment, especially if the debt is legitimate. Lastly, if you are unsure about the collector’s validity, contact your local government, the FTC or a licensed attorney prior to alert them of the scam.
If you believe your rights have been violated under the FDCPA, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.