CLEVELAND - Ohio consumers are getting phone calls from someone claiming to be a debt collector. But, is the caller legit?
"Fast talking foreigner and he said I was delinquent and we're going to take legal action," Tim Swancer remembered.
Swancer is a college student working full time, and figured a payment from an online payday loan slipped through the cracks. He had no reason to doubt the debt collector, so he paid it off.
"He knew who it was from. He knew how much. He knew the last four digits of my social security number. He knew my birthday and place of employment," Swancer explained.
Under the law, Swancer has the right to request documentation of the debt before making any payment. Swancer didn't exercise that right.
After he paid, he looked through his paperwork for proof of debt. Swancer didn't find anything. The debt also didn't appear on his credit report.
"Two days later, I got a letter from CashNet USA saying we value you as a customer," Swancer said. The letter offered a promotional rate if he took out another loan.
The timing didn't add up for Swancer, so he called CashNet USA.
"They knew exactly what was going on. They knew there were fraudulent phone calls," Swancer said.
CashNet USA warns consumers about these phony calls on its website and says the calls are not being made by anyone affiliated with the company.
The parent company of CashNet USA did not return our repeated calls for comment. According to the company's website, customers of Payday Advance, Cashland, Cash America, and SuperPawn are also getting calls. Some people who never did business with these companies are getting calls.
The Illinois Attorney General also issued a warning for bogus debt collectors using a variety of names beside CashNet USA including: Morgan & Associates, Federal Bureau of Investigators, DNR Recovery, DNI Recovery, Legal Accounts Association, Department of Law and Enforcement, America Legal Services, Quick Cash, and ACS.
Swancer just wonders why he never got a letter warning him about this problem.
"I'm afraid someone might have my information," Swancer said.
Swancer is lucky. His bank refunded the debit card payment.
CashNet USA refers consumers to the Federal Trade Commission, but that agency won't say if it's investigating.
Click here for questions the FTC says you should ask before paying a debt collector:
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