A frightened Quincy, IL woman called the BBB today concerning a phone call she had received this morning. The caller introduced himself as Officer Taylor from the BBB in Texas, and informed her that she was going to be charged with check and wire fraud for not repaying a $250 loan, from Cash Net USA, provided in July. Officer Taylor threatened that he would send an attorney to arrest her if she did not send $250 by noon today. Luckily, before sending any money, the woman visited her bank. Her bank was able to verify that there was no such deposit made into her account, and referred her to her local BBB. We were then able to squelch her fears by clarifying that the call she received was not legitimate, and the BBB’s mission is to promote ethics and trust in the marketplace- not to collect alleged debt.
Callers like “Officer Taylor” relentlessly call the victim’s home, cell phone, and place of employment. They refuse to provide any details about the alleged payday loans and may become abusive when questioned. The callers have threatened victims with legal actions, arrests, and, in some cases, physical violence if they do not pay. In many cases, the telemarketers harass victims’ relatives, friends, and employers.
According to complaints received from the public, the callers have accurate data about victims, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, employer information, bank account numbers, and the names and telephone numbers of relatives and friends. How the fraudsters obtained the personal information varies, but in some cases victims have reported they completed online applications for other loans or credit cards before the calls started.
If you are receiving these calls, do not follow the caller’s instructions. Here are tips to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
· Never give your Social Security number—or personal information of any kind—over the telephone or online unless you initiate the contact and you know who you are dealing with.
· Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information. The e-mail may include upsetting or exciting but false statements to get you to react immediately.
· Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that request personal information.
· Ensure that your browser is up-to-date and security patches have been applied.
· Check your bank, credit, and debit card statements regularly to make sure that there are no unauthorized transactions. If anything looks suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers.
· Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
· Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
· File a complaint at www.IC3.gov .
· For more advice you can trust from your local BBB on avoiding scams and fraud, go to www.bbb.org .