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Dayton area hit with new phone scam

Dayton residents beware: Scam artists have your phone number and aren't afraid to use it.

The United States Marshals have just issued a warning to residents in the Daytona area that there's a con game going around town -- again.

An individual calling from area code 937 represents himself to those he calls as a member of the Marshals' Service. He then informs the usually panicked and surprised recipients of the calls that there are active warrants out for their arrest.

Of course, the victims are reassured that they do have a final opportunity to avoid arrest by settling some debt they supposedly owe. The caller then tries to get his victims to pay the fee over the phone using either their own credit card or one of those prepaid credit cards that can be purchased at a grocery store.

While this is a new rash of calls, the scam is a familiar one to law enforcement. Many of those caught running such scams in the past have turned out to be unscrupulous debt collectors that cheerfully violated several federal laws, including those in the Fair Debt Collection Act, while trying to bully scared consumers into paying old or questionable debts from payday loan companies.

Debt collection is a hard job to work, because it basically means badgering people who are already down on their luck into paying money they can't afford on bills they will probably never be able to resolve. Since the debts are often written off by the originating company and sold to debt collectors for a fraction of what is owed, getting any money out of a consumer who is scared of going to jail is considered a "win" for the debt collector.

However, the Marshals' warning to consumers should also serve as a warning to anyone who is about to get mixed up in one of these scams by going to work for the debt collectors. Debt collection companies often hire people who are willing to work on commission -- which encourages them to be aggressive with the consumers. That can end up landing unwitting individuals in a lot of legal hot water if they are caught violating the law.

Don't allow yourself to be victimized on either end of this particular type of fraud. If you have any questions about the legality of something, an attorney can provide advice and guidance.

Source: wdtn.com, "US Marshals warn of phone scam," Paul Rodzinka, June 27, 2017

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