Fear is the best tool in a scammer's arsenal.
"I was scared. I thought I was going to go to jail," says Beverly Steed.
And that's exactly what Steed felt when she got a call from someone claiming to be a paralegal telling her she would be arrested for accepting a payday loan. They called her work phone, hassling coworkers and leaving messages on her cell phone.
"They said I had accepted and received a payday loan online and when the funds were being extracted, that there was a criminal charge in there."
Steed had applied for a loan, but had never accepted one. The scammer told her she would be arrested, sent to jail in New York for three months and would not be able to hold a job for the next three years. If she resisted, they would also suspend her driver's license so she couldn't drive away.
"They told me then we could settle it and I asked him what did he mean? And he said for $698, that's the total, we can fix this."
Steed didn't have the money and had to hang up. Frantic, Beverly went to her boss to explain the situation. Her boss then went to the internet to find out just who these people are.
"And it popped up as a fraud. Someone has already posted on the internet, this man is a fraud."
Stephanie Knight with the Better Business Bureau says people who borrow money have a considerable amount of power.
"They're entitled to know the debt, who the debtor is, the terms and conditions or any contract, anything they've signed related to the debt and that has to happen first before they can take further steps against the consumer," says Knight.
Meaning the threat of jail time is way down on the list of steps a loan officer must go through. Meanwhile, Steed just hopes others don't fall for this heartless scam.
"They were just very persistent, very professional sounding. They made it sound real," says Steed.
The scariest thing about all this was that they had her social security number, her address, her work phone and cell phone number. If you receive a call like this, you are urged to call the Better Business Bureau at 800-544-4714.
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