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Bogus telephone debt collectors are back

Local 6 News at 7:00p
Local 6 News at 7:00p

They call with the information only you should have -- Social Security number, telephone number, and something else: An old debt ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

It happened last week to Local 6 viewer Lee from Brevard County. (She asked us to use her middle name for privacy reasons.)

"They were threatening to have someone come over to my house to serve papers," she says.

Lee says the call was packed with intimidation but no explanation or proof.
This is an excerpt from the phone message:

"This is Amanda…..calling with the Liaison office in regards to a fax I received from CR and Associates stating there are complaints being filed against your name and social security number…"

The words are unsettling but according to Morgan and Morgan attorney William "Billy" Howard within a few seconds of reviewing the recording he realized it "was a scam."

CR and Associates is based in Norfolk, Virginia. The company has been listed in various scam websites dating back to 2009. By all accounts they purchase old debt but consumers complain their tactics are on the verge of bullying.

But in Lee's case, she says she has no outstanding debt. Yet when she called to get an explanation about that odd voice mail a woman told her it was a payday loan, and she was going to be "in trouble."

"They basically tell you they have your Social Security number that you owe a certain amount of money, they told me $300, but they wouldn't give me the name of the company," she says.

The intimidation is just that. Lee says no one ever her called her again, sent a her a notice in the mail or showed up at her home.

In fact, they don't have her address. What is unclear is how the company was able to access personal information.

Lee says it's possible someone assumed her identity but the alleged loan was only for a little over $300.

According to debthelp.com, "Collectors obtain bad debts from original creditors, either by being assigned to them or (usually) by buying them. Your creditor is not obligated to inform you if your account is transferred to a collections agency, so sometimes the first clue that you get is a most unexpected phone call or letter."

"When you are contacted by a collections agency for the first time, they are required to send you a written notice in the mail within five days. The notice must include three important pieces of information: (1) the total amount of money that you owe, (2) the name of your original creditor, and (3) the actions that you should take if you wish to dispute."