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Don’t fall for tricks played by debt−collection frauds

Illegal scams are becoming more prevalent since the economy has gone sour and will increase, according to the 106th Precinct. Even international scams, where the scammers are calling U.S. citizens, seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.

One such phony collection−agency scam, which operates out of India and calls itself National Processing Division and the Federal Investigation Bureau, induces fear so you will hand over your credit or debit card and pay an online payday loan that you never owed.

These fraudsters are calling Americans all over the country using psychological tactics, saying marshals will come to their house and whisk them away to jail because they owe a payday loan. Debtors’ prison has not existed since the 17th century, so this is an illegal statement, but some people get frightened by this and hand over payment. Do not be fooled. There have also been threats of physical harm and even rape.

Complaints have been posted over the Internet and can be found via a Google search on National Processing Division. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of complaints. This company is nothing more than an Indian scam ring, which is being investigated by the FBI and hopefully will be shut down. Another scam ring in Florida was recently closed by the FBI.

The frightening aspect of this is when they call you and say they have your Social Security number, banking information, home address and work and home numbers, and sometimes they even have your parents’ information. These crooks usually have thick Indian accents and go by American names, such as “Mr. Jefferson,” “Mr. Johnson,” “Ryan Cruz” and “Amanda.”

There have been reports of people getting 10 harassing phone calls daily. The smartest thing to do is hang up the phone and report this to the Federal Trade Commission or FBI, which can be done online and at your local police precinct.

Maria Thomson, the 102nd Precinct Community Council president, says the problem is growing and these scammers are becoming bolder by inventing new tactics to steal your identity and money.

“White collar crimes are growing. Internet scams, Nigerian e−mail scams, identity theft and lottery scams seem to be affecting everyone,” said Thomson. “Never give out your personal information over the phone and always report identity theft.”

According to state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D−Rockaway Beach), anyone can be a victim of phone fraud. She said con artists do not care about your age, skin color or religion. Older people and non−English−speaking people usually fall prey more often than others.

In her brochure about scams, she also says victims should contact the Consumer Protection Board at consumer.state.ny.us or 1−800−697−1220. Pheffer also says in this brochure to contact the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general’s office if you suspect an illegitimate company is harassing you.

The FTC has specific rules on its Web site for the Fair Debt Collection Act, if in fact you owe debt. The site says debt collectors may not harass, oppress or abuse you or third parties they contact. They cannot use threats of violence or harm, use obscene or profane language or imply they are attorneys or government representatives. They also cannot state you committed a crime, even if you owe debt. Debt is a civil, not a criminal, matter.

Two phony payday loan sites to stay away from that are connected with this collection agency scam are cashnet.com and soniccash.net. They steal your personal information and sell it to this fraud ring.

They always call from cell phones so their numbers cannot be traced. The area codes to be aware of are 213, 713, 818, 941 and 951. They also tell you that your file will be downloaded into the federal court system and you must send them a letter of apology.

Apologize for what — their corrupt behavior? This is a ruse to intimidate the American people. At the end of the conversation, they say, “Now only God can help you if you do not pay.”

They use fear and intimidation as their weapon of choice and hopefully God can help them, but it is unlikely. The key is to never give out your personal information over the phone, hang up the phone and report any scam to the FTC, FBI and attorney general.

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