Last April, the Huffington Post told the story of an Indiana woman who was the victim of a debt collection scam. A caller told her that in 30 minutes the police would arrive to arrest her if she didn’t pay $300 right away. So Brenda Foster, 46, sent the money immediately.
Unfortunately, the caller worked for scammer Kirit Patel, a highly successful lawbreaker who allegedly bilked over 600,000 people out of $5.2 million using two fraudulent companies: Broadway Global Masters and In-Arabia.
Ultimately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) busted Patel and his companies, charging both with violations of the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
As New Jersey FDCPA lawyers, we cringe every time we hear about these scams and their devastating effects on innocent consumers. How can you tell if you are being scammed when a debt collector calls? Here are a few of their tricks:
- Threatening arrest or other harm to the person who owes money.
- Inventing a debt that does not exist, then convincing victims that they owe money and must pay.
- Harassing their victims with constant phone calls, in an effort to “wear them down.”
- Emailing letters and communications with fake government letterheads.
- Asking for payments in unconventional ways. For instance, one victim was asked to purchase Wal-Mart money cards and send the card numbers.
In the end, Patel and his companies were busted and ordered to pay back the consumers they had robbed. While some of the money has been returned, court proceedings continue to seek complete refunds for all of the consumers.
If you suspects that you are being scammed, don’t pay! Even if you know the debt collector is legitimate, he or she may still be violating your FDPCA rights.
Find out exactly what your legal rights are and make sure they are being represented. At Szaferman Lakind in New Jersey, we represent clients who are being harassed by debt collectors. Call us toll free today at 609-771-8612 for a consultation.