Fake Bill Collectors Scam Oklahomans Out Of Money

Thursday, February 16th 2012, 3:00 pm
By: News 9

Right when you think you've heard of every possible con game, the con artists think of something new.

The latest ploy can cheat people out of their hard-earned money, and even threatens victims with jail time.

Melissa Jackson is general manager at Retail Data Solutions, a company that sells computerized cash registers to restaurants. When a customer falls behind on payments, Jackson uses bill collectors to bring the account up to date. But she's learned the hard way not everyone is legitimate.

"His story was, ‘Hey, I'm so and so,'" said Jackson. "[He] gave me his name, the name of his company that he worked for. He said, ‘I can collect faster. Our fees are lower.'"

Jackson gave the company a try, but in the end, she and her customers were scammed.

"He collected money from a couple of my customers, and he never sent the money."

Unfortunately, Jackson's story isn't that uncommon. Scam artists posing as bill collectors have added another tactic to their game plan: fear.

Jennifer Wallis with Consumer Credit Counseling Services says the threat of ending up in jail

is enough for some people to easily become victims.

"It puts that person in a panic, thinking they're going to jail for something that they don't even know they owe," said Wallis. "But they'll say if you pay me right now, then I won't do this."

But here's what the con artists want you to know: In Oklahoma, you can't go to jail for a collection account.

But it is legal in Oklahoma for a legitimate debt collector to contact you between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. They cannot contact you at work if you've told them you're not allowed to get calls there.

In most cases, the statute of limitations on an open account -- such as a credit card -- is 3 years.

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