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Several members of the Grayson‑Galax Bar Association have reported that several clients have contacted their offices about a potential scam.
By pretending to be debt collectors, callers have threatened to have clients arrested unless they immediately make a payment toward an alleged bad check.
Many of the calls included calls to family members, claiming to be attempting to collect a debt owed by the client, said bar president Roger Brooks.
Most of the clients reported that the alleged debt involved either a bad check or an old payday loan, usually being over five years old.
The callers become increasingly hostile, even attempting to have family members of the alleged debtors to make immediate payment — usually insisting on payment by credit card.
Callers appear to have gathered significant information about the clients, which raises their threat level.
It appears that these calls are a scam, attempting to scare individuals in hopes of getting them to send money or give out personal information.
If the debt is real, creditors already have the debtor's personal information and would not need to ask for it, Brooks said in a news release.
If someone thinks that they might owe the debt, they should ask the debt collector to send written verification of the debt — federal law requires that it be sent. If the debt is real, the debt collectors may ultimately sue for the debt owed.
The bar association advises not to give out personal information to these callers, and to avoid making a payment without speaking with an attorney.
Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are prohibited from saying that someone will be arrested if they don't pay their debt, Brooks said.
Debt collectors are also prohibited from contacting anyone except the debtor, the debtor's spouse, or their attorney about their debt except to find out the debtor's address, home phone number, and where the debtor works.
Generally they are not allowed to discuss someone's debt with anyone else. If the debtor has hired an attorney and tells the debt collector that they have an attorney, the debt collector must deal with the attorney.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION LINKS:
• Fair Debt Collection Practices Act