The Better Business Bureau is alerting consumers about a new scam involving payday loans and phone calls from phony bill collectors.
Scammers presenting themselves as attorneys for the “Financial Accountability Association” or the “Federal Legislation of Unsecured Loans” accuse the call recipients of defaulting on payday loans and threaten them with lawsuits, arrest and extradition to California unless they make an immediate payment via wire or by providing credit card or bank account numbers.
Especially worrisome is the amount of personal information the scammers already have about their victims. The callers often have the victims’ Social Security numbers, home addresses, employment information, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers and even names of friends and professional references. Such extensive data indicates the scam may be the result of a data breach.
This particular type of scam is known as “pretexting”. Webster’s defines a pretext as “a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one; a cover up or a front.”
Take the following steps to avoid becoming a victim of pretexting:
- Never give out or confirm any personal or financial information over the phone unless you’ve initiated the call.
- If the caller accuses you of having an unpaid debt, ask for a written statement to confirm the debt.
- If the caller is threatening or abusive, obtain as much information as you can and call the Federal Trade Commission.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau if you think a pretexter has targeted you.