More Texans face debt collection scams

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

kvue.com

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 5 at 8:07 PM

AUSTIN -- You or someone you know has probably gotten a phone call from a collection agency. While some are legit, investigators say others are not. Fake debt collection is one of the most common scams Texas consumers face.

It's a phone call Amanda Dudley never expected to receive.

“First she called me by my maiden name, then she asked me if I had bounced any checks recently and I told her no."

The woman told Dudley she owed money for a hot check.

“I asked her for her phone number which she refused to give to me, then she told me to shut up, not as nice as that,” Dudley said.

The caller then hung up, and kept calling back. She finally left this message:

“My name is Gina Smith calling on behalf of Travis County, calling to inform you that I have a summons for you to appear in court. Ma'am I tried contacting you and giving you your information but you refused to take it so at this time I will mark you down as a refusal and I will send a uniformed officer to your place of employment or your residence.”

Amanda and her husband Dale, a radio personality at KLBJ-FM, reported the calls to the Travis County Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney General.

And then today -- more calls.

“I receive another phone call from a man named Jeremy Whitlock with ACS,” Dudley said. “He then started telling me my husband's social security number, some bank account numbers that we have.”

The web is filled with complaints about abusive phone calls from people who say they represent ACS, a debt collection agency.

We did a search, and nationally, a number of companies use that same initials to conduct business.

Law enforcement officials tell us a company that threatens to arrest you, and doesn't identify the creditor you owe money to is violating federal and Texas state law.

They advise you to tell the collector you refuse to pay until you receive written notice of your debt.

If the collector can't or won't give you that information, do not pay, and report the call to the authorities.

It's a lesson Dudley won't forget.

“Your credit is everything to you, it's how you buy a car how you buy a house,” she said. “It completely freaks me out.”

It's also a good idea to check your credit report. Make sure you know if you do have an outstanding debt.

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