Threatening calls say you owe money

August 5, 2011 4:22:37 PM PDT
Threatening calls saying you owe money are going around and the callers say if you don't pay up, you'll get jail time.

The calls can be scary because the callers have very personal information like social security and bank account numbers.

The goal is to get you to give them the money they're demanding.

The calls came in unexpectedly to Shawntel Reams phone.

"My name is Officer Frank Johnson," the caller says. "Get ready to be arrested."

Not only did she get the calls at home, but also at work. Every call was the same -- a demand for money.

"I owe money to pay a loan, and I was going to get charged if I didn't pay any money," Reams said.

She says the caller told her the debt was on a loan she got from an Internet company. While she says she did apply for an online loan a few months ago, she says she was denied.

"I never got any money, I never even got approval letter, phone call, nothing," Reams said.

Now, she's getting the intimidating calls that she owes money.

"I was scared because they started saying my social security number," Reams added. "They also threatened if I didn't pay the loan; they were going to contact my employer if I didn't show up at the court house with my lawyer."

She is not the only one getting the calls.

"We're getting a lot of complaints with this specific scam," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper told the Troubleshooter. "A lot of these calls come from overseas which makes it difficult to trace. We often work with federal agencies to track down these people but they move from place to place."

Cooper says that's why it's so important to know your rights and not give the scammers any personal information or agree to pay anything over the phone.

"If you get this call and someone says you owe a debt, you may not know about it," Cooper added. "Demand written proof of the debt because it's required by the law."

Reams says she hopes others are as savvy and don't fall for the bogus debt calls.

"They try and be intimidating, but as long as you know what you know, don't be intimidated," she said.

If you have received one of the calls and give the scammers personal information, make sure you check your credit report. You can do it for free with each of the three credit bureaus each year.

You also may want to consider putting a security freeze on your credit if you provided your social security number.

Again, if you get an email or letter about owing debt, it is your right to demand written proof of that debt before paying it.

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