It's very common for such callers to leave threatening notes concerning the fact that they are about to issue a summons for you to appear in court or some other threat. They are simply lying just to get you to call back. Very illegal, by the way. You should record these calls, as you will be able to sue if they keep harassing you.
Also check out this article
Complaints growing about shady debt collectors
There is also a video of this story on the WPTV website.
WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- As finances get tighter, scammers are working harder than ever to separate people from their hard-earned cash.
Boca Raton resident Michael Thorson found out first hand how aggressive some scammers are getting. He came home to harassing phone calls, several of them, several days in a row.
The answering machine message went like this: ?Mr. Thorson, This is Mr. Neiman calling with the firm of Rubin & Yates. I?m calling about an unpaid debt. The county clerk?s office will be notified of your refusal to cooperate. I suggest you call me back no later than 3 o'clock today."
Thorson remembers hearing the message for the first time.
"It was scary,? said Thorson. ?Someone is saying he's from a firm and that's he's getting ready to file and I need to call him back by a particular time."
Thorson said he returned the call, but couldn?t remember owing money or having any unpaid debt.
"First I'm questioning my own sanity because I know my financial situation and I don't have any outstanding debts that's he's referring to," said Thorson.
But the man on the line wouldn't listen, according to Thorson.
"He told me they were going to notify my bank,? Thorson recalls. ?So I said, could I go to jail for this? And he said, we're trying to avoid that."
According to Thorson, the firm offered to wipe out his alleged $8,000 debt and settle his case over the phone for $1,200.
"This is ridiculous, but people are doing it," said Mike Galvin with the Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau.
"These are threats. These are personal threats these people are making and it?s happening nationwide, " Galvin said.
A three-month Contact Five/Scripps Howard News Service investigation found, debt collection scams are the top complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The reason? An increase in aggressive collection tactics coupled with more and more people falling behind on their bills.
"That's the predator. They come in and take advantage of the situation," Galvin said. ?In times of economic hardship, this is what happens."
Galvin remembers not so long ago, another event-driven scam.
"Back in the days of 911, everyone was trying to sell respirators,? Galvin remembers ?and you know what happened with that situation."
Contact Five cracked that case after finding Americans nationwide, who were worried about a terrorist attack, signed up and sent millions to Gas Mask USA, a Ft. Lauderdale-based business.
Consumers thought they were purchasing new respirators to protect their families. But our cameras found the respirators stashed in buckets in a warehouse. They were used, shipped in from Canada, refurbished and then sold as new to unknowing Americans.
"People have to be aware during these desperate economic times there are people out there preying on them," Galvin warned.
For Thorson, he says the calls were so harassing; he wanted to make it all go away.
?It was tempting. It was tempting just to pay them, but something didn't sound quite right," he remembers.
It's the reason he called debt collection legal specialist Bob Murphy.
"You cannot tell somebody that they're going to go to jail just to collect a debt,? Murphy said. ?You cannot tell somebody that you are a law firm when you're not a law firm. You cannot tell somebody that there are papers that are down at the courthouse."
In Mr. Thorson?s case, there were no papers filed at any courthouse according to Murphy.
?It was a fiction, simply an attempt to falsely state there was some action when there was not,? Murphy said.
Contact Five tried contacting Rubin & Yates. At first a company representative told us by phone, he would have no comment. Later, that same employee called back but refused to tell us his title. He said, "The only thing I can tell you is that Mr. Neiman (the caller) was terminated in March for several FTC violations. We don't condone any activity like that."
Michael Thorson never paid the alleged debt and while he considers himself lucky, he still considers himself a victim.
"You feel violated?.you feel like someone came in your house with a gun. They might as well have said give us your money. You know,I guess it's robbery by telephone. It's the same thing."
Our investigative team found lax laws are a huge problem when it comes to debt collection regulation.
A weak law enforcement system, in which collection companies face scant threats if they?re caught breaking the law is a major problem, according to consumer advocate groups.
To see a list of complaints made against collection companies by state, click here.
If you are contacted by a debt collector, know this:
1.) Within the first 30 days of being contacted, you have a right to request in writing, verification and validation of the debt. This should clarify what is owed.
2.) If you do not want to be contacted by the debt collector or you want to refer any contact to a representative attorney, put it in writing and inform the debt collector that subsequent communication should be put through attorney or to cease communication entirely.
3.) Debt collectors are not allowed to contact your before 8a.m. or after 9pm.
Avoid any Caller ID that includes names like:
Just don't answer the phone. These calls are almost always from criminal scammers seeking to take advantage of innocent victims by trying to attach an unrecoverable debt to someone who never owed the money in the first place.
Calls from 716 Buffalo are usually scams
716 is the area code for Buffalo, NY, which is recognized as a center for scams of all types. Most are people trying to attach your name to an old or uncollectable debt for someone else. Beware of all calls from the 716 area code!!!! New York AG is aware of the problem and has several parallel investigations underway. Best bet is to NEVER answer a call from a 716 area code or any company based in Buffalo, NY.
The caller, identifying himself as Patrick Callahan, was looking for someone else not living at my residence. He said he was calling from the fraud division at Nationwide Recovery involving a fraudulant check.
He said to return his call at 877-304-5349, but the number on my Caller ID was 716-332-0672. He went on to say that failure to call will result in a no contest plea in court on Friday 2/19/2010. I could hear another person talking in the background. Anyone else have this experience??
multi calls from this number call back gives a fax machine