Contact 2: Phantom Debt

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(KTVI) – Dealing with debt collectors… Can get ugly.    It`s called Phantom Debt.  For consumers on the receiving end of one of their calls, it`s enough to scare you into submission.  Sabrina Miller is a working mother.  Last month she got a voice mail message from one of those debt collectors.  It said,
‘Please call Charles Dickens to discuss a matter.  We need to serve you papers at your work or your home.’
I called the toll free number just as Sabrina had done.  The recorded greeting said I had reached  Conrad Peyton Litigation.   No one picked up.  Sabrina did speak with someone.
‘They recited my entire social security number for me.  But they didn`t have my birthday and they didn`t know where I live now.’
The call was about a Payday Loan.  Sabrina says she`s never taken out any loans so she refused to answer questions.   ‘That`s when they say since you`re not cooperating with us we`re  just going to have you arrested.  They were like ….’just pay the debt, you stupid ‘N’ Word.’ ‘
According to Rob Swearingen deceptive tactics violate federal law.  He’s an attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri who’s sued phantom debt collectors.   His advice, ‘Never deal with anybody on the phone.    If somebody calls you, tell them they must write you a letter, everything must be done through correspondence.’
After you get a letter then you can start researching the legitimacy of the debt.  But how do the shady guys get consumer information?  Swearingen says,  ‘Sometimes that information is hacked from old data bases. Sometimes it`s debt that`s been sold over and over again, even bankruptcy.  Even people that have gone through bankruptcy their debt can be sold to debt collectors, who will call you and try to scare you into giving them money. ‘
If you have questions about what to do when you get a call like this, contact Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.  And you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  We have links to both agencies below.   If you have consumer issues our toll free line is open Monday through Thursday between 11am and 1pm.   The number is 800 782-2222.

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0258-fake-debt-collectors
LEGAL SERVICES OF EASTERN MISSOURI    http://www.lsem.org/History_6.aspx

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