News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, March 17, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- These scammers are very convincing and sound like real debt collectors and if you are not careful you could be paying money that you do not even owe.
"I was at work and they called me on Tuesday," Erma Blackwell said.
A call she said was from a collection agency claiming she owed $4,600 on an old debt and if she did not pay up she would face legal action.
"They were gonna summons me, come to my job," said Blackwell.
She said the caller even threatened her with arrest.
"He gave me my last four of my social security, he gave me my date of birth, where I live at and my whole name," Blackwell said.
She said the caller agreed to reduce the debt if she paid it with a credit card by the end of the month.
"Let me tell them I'm gonna pay them some of it because they took off $3,000," Blackwell said.
But before doing anything else she contacted the credit card company which confirmed she had a zero balance.
Blackwell said after realizing it was a scam she contacted the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and 12 On Your Side.
"I called them and they gave me your number told me to call News 12," Blackwell said.
She also filed a police report. It said Blackwell was targeted by a scammer and her personal information may have been bought over the internet. She placed an alert on her accounts but said she is still worried that someone has all her personal information
"They know too much, a little too much about me," Blackwell said.
She did the right thing by being skeptical and contacting her credit card company.
Meanwhile the best way to avoid being targeted by debt collector scams is to know your rights. For example debt collectors are required by law to provide information about a debt in writing. It is called a "validation notice."