A New Scam
As you all know, banks and other financial institutions have been hurting the last few years. They used to have a license to steal, but that power has been limited by law and the financial meltdown. The money crisis has hit them very hard. They are used to making BILLIONS, but are now "only" making MILLIONS! Therefore they are doing every thing (fair and foul) they can to make a buck. Others that are hurting this way include department stores (such as Sears) and other companies (like Shell or Exxon) who issue credit cards.
One cheap trick that they are all using is to sell past bills (sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid) to certain collection agencies for pennies on the dollar. These unethical people are referred to as "Scavenger" collection agencies.
These Scavengers then start looking for ALL people who have the same name as the person on the original bill. Sometimes they find hundreds of them. They then phone or send a copy of the bill and a demand for payment to everyone on their list. A number of people think that they must have forgotten to pay and will remit a check. Others simply ignore these solicitations. Some will argue with the Scavengers and refuse to pay.
There is a statute of limitations on how long bill collectors have to collect. However, these Scavengers will often send out bills well after the deadline with the hope that they can scare someone into paying. And, get this: sometimes they will call somebody to try to collect and that person will tell them that they are not going to pay; that the statute of limitations has passed, or "we don't owe it." The Scavenger then may say something like: "Well, tell you what! We need to clear this. If you send us a token payment of ONE dollar, we can close the account." DON'T EVER DO IT!!! If you send them any money on a past due account (even past the statute of limitations), it will reopen the account, allowing the Scavenger to harass you and even take you to court, and possibly collect all of it!
And, even though you did pay all your past bills, some of them may still end up in the hands of Scavengers. Therefore it is of utmost importance to keep copies of ALL of the bills that you have paid off. This is YOUR responsibility! Many people have had to pay old bills again because they didn't keep proof of payment. There are some very crooked and greedy people out there looking to rob you and they don't even need a gun!
Today, millions of people are going bankrupt. This is a procedure that allows you to wipe out old debts and start over. Afterwards it is against the law for any past debtors to try to collect on these debts. However, many banks are illegally selling these bankrupted debts to Scavengers for a few pennies on the dollar and the Scavengers are actively pursuing the now bankrupt creditor. This could occur years later. Again, if you have ever gone bankrupt, KEEP ALL RECORDS!
Some day you may get a summons to go to court because a Scavenger is suing you. You may think "I don't have respond to that. That debt is more than TEN years old. I'll just ignore it." or "I know that I already paid it." Again, DON"T IGNORE IT! Even though it is well past the deadline or you have paid the bill, if you DO NOT show up in court, the judge WILL give the Scavenger a default judgment to go after you!
Occasionally you will get a call from someone who is "INVESTIGATING Identity Theft". He will ask for all or part of you Social Security (SS) number. RULE OF THUMB #1: NEVER GIVE ANY PART OF YOUR SS NUMBER TO ANYBODY WHO CALLS ON THE PHONE!!! Sometimes they may pretend to be your bank or the Internal Revenue System (IRS). However, your Bank, the IRS or the SS will never call you to get your SS number. If they need it, they will write. This rule also applies to your CREDIT CARD and CHECKING ACCOUNT numbers. NO NUMBERS OVER THE PHONE - EVER!!!
Sometime you may get a letter with a check in it. You will be told that you have won some money. All you have to do is deposit the check, then take part of it for yourself and WIRE the balance somewhere! NEVER WIRE MONEY TO ANYBODY THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE! It is always a fraud and you'll be stuck with the bill!
Protecting your money, identity and preserving your credit score are FULL TIME jobs. And, you are the only one who can do it. And, not having to repay old debt is your job, too. How long should you keep copies of old bills - paid for or not??? FOREVER!!! The money you save will be YOUR OWN!
Has any of this happened to me? Thank God, NO! But it takes eternal vigilance to protect oneself!