Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is warning consumers that 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 to my office as well as local authorities."
According to the complaints, the alleged 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.
The fraudsters 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; and,
-U.S. Justice Department/Payday Loan Division.
Here's what the Office of the Attorney General says we should all bear in mind when dealing 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 with the CO Attorney General's Office. You can do that by clicking on the link below. You can also file a complaint over the phone, by calling 303-866-5304, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Consumer can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online. A link to their web site is posted below as well. To make a complaint to the FTC via phone, call 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.