Bad debt call scares Boise man; clean up credit report to avoid problems

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Frantic, Elmore Lumpkin of Boise called to ask if Baker & McKenzie, an international law firm, could have him jailed and sent South Dakota for a debt he owed.

“[The caller] told my wife that if I didn’t call back within the next 10 minutes she was going to have someone on my doorstep to haul me away,” he says. “They called her because I don’t have a cellphone, and they told her everything about this debt.”

After calming him down, he explained that about six years ago he had taken out a “pay-day loan” from a store in South Dakota while stationed there in the armed forces. The amount was $952.62. Shortly after that he was transferred.

“Now, I’m out of the military and trying to settle down in the Boise area,” he says. “We were doing a credit report with the mortgage company and found a few minor blips — including this one to Check ‘n’ Go.”

Lumpkin says it was less than week after running a credit check that Baker & McKenzie’s “worthless check division” contacted his wife.

He’s working with the mortgage company to clear this debt up, but was concerned about the call, he says.

“I know it’s my debt, and I’m trying to take care of it, but to threaten me through my wife was way over the top,” he says.

Couple of points on collection threats

Debt collectors may not tell you that:

  • you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
  • they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or
  • actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.

If you think that a caller may be a fake debt collector, ask the caller his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Refuse to discuss any debt until you receive a written “validation notice.” The notice must include the amount of the debt, the creditor’s name, and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (your rights).

If a caller refuses to give you any of this information, do not pay. Hang up. Paying a fake debt collector may open the door to further collection attempts.

Do NOT give out personal or financial information or confirm sensitive information like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security over the phone. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft.

If it is a legitimate debt – but you think the collector may not be – contact your creditor.

If you receive a suspicious telephone call about an outstanding debt, BBB  says:

  • Check with the Idaho Department of Finance for licensing information at 888-346-3378 or finance.idaho.gov. A collection agency MUST be licensed by the state.  If they are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or do not have a license, file a complaint with the Department of Finance.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online if the caller is abusive, uses threats or otherwise violates federal telemarketing laws.
  • File a complaint with BBB online if you believe a debt collector is trying to scam you at complaint.bbb.org.
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1 Comment

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One response to “Bad debt call scares Boise man; clean up credit report to avoid problems

  1. Mark Burrows

    We have talked on this subject before. Once a parent company has given up on it’s attempt to collect a debt, they only so much time before they have to close it off their books as a loss. So, they put the debt into the hands of debt collectors who are much like the bounty hunters of the old west who will go to any length to collect a bounty. Debt collectors get a big chunk of the recovered debt if they are successful. So, strong arm tactics are not unusual.
    Yet, they are still bound to some rules. Only our ignorance of their rules and such laws gives them the upper hand in using these scare tactics.
    Also, their are debt consolidation organizations that will go to work for you to approach the original creditor and offer them a percentage on the dollar of the original debt. It is a take something or nothing kind of a deal which will finally close the books on your debtors.
    True, we should not get in debt in the first place, but often we are victims of situations that take priority and things go amiss in the shuffle. It does not give anyone the right to abuse us, our family, or our right to seek a more reasonable solution to a problem other than such threats, which……are illegal, and they know it, at least they should know it.

    Mark Burrows

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