“Mr. Robert Thomas …. This is Doug Green, we have been trying to get a hold of you. We have your order here on the desk. You’ll need to call 888-337-3514 to get this resolved.”
The message was professional, clear and concise. But, the message was clearly on the wrong answering machine.
Rex and Joan Burmester, owners of Uniform World, in Nampa, have had the same phone number for 35 years. When the phone message popped up on Monday afternoon, it was vague.
“I questioned it immediately because it never said who it was from, never gave a business name, and never gave any identifying information,” Rex says. They didn’t respond to it.
On Tuesday afternoon, a message was left again.
It stated Robert Thomas had failed to call back, and he needed to call immediately on the 888- number. It concluded: “You’ve been given final notice.”
The Burmesters were beside themselves. A person named Robert Thomas had never lived at their address, had never had this phone number, and had never had a close relationship with them. They did not respond.
On Wednesday, the call came again, this time at 8:30 a.m., and the caller asked for Robert Thomas.
“It was a little more demanding this time,” Rex says about answering the phone this time. “He identified himself as Doug Green, and he said, ‘You have been noticed!'”
In the background noise on the phone, Rex said he thought he could hear the sounds of a call center or a boiler room.
“I told him, ‘There is no Robert Thomas at this phone number,'” Rex says. “His response to that was, ‘Well, how come you know him, then?'”
Rex says after he told the caller this was a scam, the caller replied – “That’s an interesting comment” – and hanged up.
BBB says this is a case of a debt collection company trying to track down an individual. The 888- number is often rotated through a robocaller that helps to generate information.
Debt collectors can legally contact people associated with a person who owes a bill if they are attempting to find him or her, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This can include telephone calls.
However, during the course of contact, the debt collector cannot state the amount owed on a debt and are prohibited from communicating with a specific person more than once unless the collector can reasonably assume the earlier response from the person was incomplete.
A collector is not allowed to communicate via postcard, and no symbols or language in written communication can show that the communication is from a debt collector. If you have sought an attorney’s help, the collector is barred from contacting anyone but the attorney unless the attorney fails to respond.
Pay attention if you get a debt collection call, especially if it is about a debt you do not owe. It’s important to learn and know debt collections dos and don’ts.
Tips and Warnings:
- Tip: Do not give or confirm your personal financial information to a stranger who calls you claiming to be a debt collector. The caller may be a scammer who is trying to get enough information to steal your identity.
- Tip: Never ignore notices from courts or employers about possible legal actions involving debt issues, even if you do not think you owe the money. If you do not respond, the result could be that money will be taken out of your paycheck or bank account to pay back the alleged debt.
- Warning Sign: You are getting calls from debt collection agencies about products or services you didn’t buy, or debts that you do not owe.
- Warning Sign: You have not received your bills, statements or other important mail in a long time.
- Warning Sign: There are unexplained withdrawals and charges on your credit card or banking statements.