If you have ever applied for an online payday loan you may be targeted as a victim in a malicious phone and email scam.
The scammers will either call you on the phone or email you pretending to be from a law firm or “investigative unit”. They will tell you that you owe an outstanding payday loan and they need payment immediately or else they will turn the matter over to local law enforcement to press criminal charges against you. The scammers are betting that you have more than one payday loan and that you don’t remember the names of the companies you legitimately owe. Don’t be fooled! Here are some tips to identify the scam and what to do to protect yourself.
THE CALL/EMAIL MIGHT BE A SCAM IF:
1. They claim to be representing a creditor you don’t recognize or a law firm you don’t recognize. Don’t assume that they are telling the truth when they say they are calling from a law firm. Try Googling the lawfirm to see if it even exists.
2. They demand payment over the phone immediately and refuse to send you a bill in the mail. No legitimate creditor will demand payment over the phone.
3. They use official sounding words in emails that are otherwise just gobble-de-gook. Oftentimes, these are foreign based scam artists who have no English language knowledge so their emails end up full of grammatical and spelling errors. Take this sentence as an example: “As we were trying to reach you since a couple of days regarding a very serious matter about a lawsuit filed on your name stating that you are doing some fraud and Civil litigations.” Look for words like “investigative”, “government”, “fraud” or “criminal”.
4. Beware of local numbers on your caller ID from a caller identifying themselves as from a law firm. Scammers often buy local numbers to trick you into answering the phone. Just recently, one of my clients got a phone call from a “law firm” and the number on the caller ID was from a local town that maybe had one stoplight – but, certainly no law firms.
5. They will lie to you! Here are some good ones: “We are sending a Sheriff to your home”, “You won’t be able to see your kids again”, “We are filing criminal charges against you”. You can’t go to jail for a bad debt. Furthermore, these guys don’t even operate in the United States so they don’t have any jurisdiction over you.
TWO SIMPLE THINGS TO DO IF YOU GET A SUSPICIOUS CALL OR EMAIL
1. Demand a bill in writing. A legitimate creditor should be able to provide you with a written statement.
2. Don’t ever give anyone your debit card or bank information over the phone. Period. Don’t be bullied into thinking that you will go to jail if you don’t pay – NO MATTER HOW NASTY THE CALL OR EMAIL IS. Remember, you can’t go to jail for a payday loan debt.