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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2013 > Debt-Collection Scams Continue to Target Ohioans

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Debt-Collection Scams Continue to Target Ohioans

Complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office suggest that scammers continue to contact Ohio families with phony debt-collection ploys. Recently, people who have applied for or inquired into payday loans are among their targets. Using information possibly obtained from online payday loan applications, the scammers attempt to trick consumers into paying for loans they may never have taken out or have already paid off.

According to consumer complaints, there are several variations of the scam. In Lake County, a consumer reported that a supposed “debt collector” threatened arrest for a debt that was already paid off. A consumer from the Cincinnati area stated that after partially completing an online payday loan application, a “debt collector” called and threated the consumer’s arrest, even though the consumer never received the loan. 
Meanwhile, in central Ohio a consumer with a history of taking out and paying off payday loans was contacted by an unfamiliar loan company regarding an alleged outstanding debt. The consumer repeatedly asked the company for information, which the company refused to provide. The loan company even threatened to send a legal notice to the consumer’s employer if she did not immediately pay the alleged debt. 
Phony debt collection scams aren’t limited to payday loans. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has also received complaints about phony debt collections for “utilities.” In this scam, “debt collectors” contact businesses and threaten to shut off utilities if a “payment” isn’t immediately sent via wire-transfer or prepaid credit card.
Fortunately, many consumers notice one or more signs that the tactic is a scam and avoid getting duped into paying for loans they do not owe. A debt collection call may not be legitimate if the caller:
  • Requests personal information, such as a consumer’s name, address, credit or debit card number, bank account number, or Social Security number
  • Requests payment via wire-transferred funds or a pre-paid money card
  • Refuses to provide information regarding the supposed debt
  • Uses vulgar language or threatens arrest if payment isn’t immediately provided
If a third-party debt collector contacts you about a debt that you supposedly owe, you have a number of rights under laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. For example, a third-party debt collector must send a letter within five days after contacting the consumer by phone. The letter must include the amount of money owed, the lender the debt is owed to, and the amount of time the consumer has to dispute the debt.
Third-party debt collectors also cannot contact consumers without identifying themselves, tell others about the debt, or contact consumers at work if they or their employer disapproves.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.