Someone calls and leaves an urgent voicemail with a call back number and a vague message about owing money or unpaid taxes. Arrest or legal action may be implied if this is not immediately resolved. Receiving a message like this may cause feelings of confusion and panic. A first reaction may be to take care of the situation before it escalates. A better reaction is to calm down, take a deep breath, and don’t act on impulse. Increasing numbers of people are reporting this type of debt collection phone scam.
Scammers use this tactic to frighten and intimidate people into paying money they don’t owe. Scammers may also be phishing for personal information such as bank accounts or credit card numbers. Never give out this type of sensitive information over the phone. It can be used to steal your money and your identity.
It is probably safe to ignore these calls if the caller does not address the message to any particular individual (first and last name) or gives no specific information about the debt. Scammers are hoping to prey on scared people who call back to try to resolve the problem. Check Caller ID to identify the number that called. Then do a Google search of the number to see if others have complained about receiving similar calls. Many of these scammers are persistent, calling numerous times over a few days. Eventually, they will move on to other potential victims if there is no response.
If you do call back or happen to answer a call from such a scammer, beware of blatant threats and abusive language. The caller may be insistent that the payment needs to be made immediately. Be very suspicious if the caller cannot provide the full name and mailing address of the company to whom the debt is owed. These are all red flags that the debt is not legitimate. Do not become a victim of fraud. If possible, report attempted debt collection scams to the Federal Trade Commission.