Smells like a scam to me.
I got a phone call yesterday that came through on the caller ID as “RESTRICTED”. As always, I let it go through to voicemail. In the message she gave me her name, the company she worked for and informed me it was about a debt I owed and that they wanted to talk to me about options. At the end she clearly stated that this was a debt collection issue and that any information they got from me would be confidential and used only in connection with the collection of this debt.
25 years ago, when I was in the middle of bankruptcy because the restaurant I was a partner in went belly up, this would have been expected. But having experienced these calls, after a little bit of stress over a new debt and reflection on what was said in the message, and what wasn’t, the red flags started flying.
- I’ve been paying my bills regularly for over 15 years, I don’t have any delinquent debts.
- The phone call came through as “RESTRICTED”, which makes a lot of people think “solicitor” and let it go to voicemail.
- She never mentioned the company that I owed the debt to. Back in the day they always said “This is in regards to your credit card with So-and-so Bank & Trust”.
- She didn’t even say my name. Not a “This call is for Max regarding your debt with So-and-so Bank & Trust”.
So I thought, if I fell for this what would be the natural course of action?
I’d call them back at the 1-800 number they gave me. They would ask who is calling and I’d give them my name. Then they would want to verify that it was me and that I did have authority to discuss this with them. Anytime I call my bank or creditor they ask for two things to make sure they are talking to me: my home address and my Social Security number.
Can you hear that fishing line being reeled in? I sure can.
And I figure that if it does in fact turn out to be legit (and for the life of me I can’t figure out who I’d owe money to, that’s in collections at least) with the current problems with identity theft, they should be reasonably quick to understand why I didn’t respond.
OR, I could call back and tell them I’m Max Sartin (yes, it’s a pseudonym), my address is 1313 10th Kilometer Road and my Social Security number is 666-00-1212. Now, it would be really funny if I told them all that and I got “Yes, Mr. Sartin, we have your file right here…”.