Answer the Phone?
Scams and Scam Artists
Stop and Think
Types of Scams
||Stop and Think
First off, a legal disclaimer. We are not providing legal advice in any way or any form. Anything and everything expressed is only an opinion and should be treated as such. Legal action is a very serious matter and should be discussed with a qualified lawyer immediately. Legally anyone threatening you with legal action must be intending to follow through with legal action.
Since you’re (hopefully) not currently under serious duress and have the time to think, it’s a great time to think through a few things. I don’t know about you, but I always need time to think: given sufficient time to think and research, I believe that I often come up with the "right" answer, but being put on the spot to come up with that answer, I often don’t. Therefore, I like to think through scenarios so I’ll have an answer if I need it ready to go.
Since the beginning of time, less-than-ethical individuals and corporations have used techniques to try and get your money. First off, lets describe what failure is. Failure is giving them your Credit Card number, Debit Card number or Bank Account information. If you give this to them, you are either legally authorizing them to charge a specified amount or if they don’t mind using illegal and semi-legal techniques, they might charge your Card or Bank Account repeatedly with various amounts until they are forced to stop. They might exist in a 3rd world country and could be nearly impossible to track down or prosecute.
Lets next look at some of the "tools" that one of these callers might use to try and get your money. First off, its illegal in the United States for them to improperly display who they are in the Caller ID. That being said, its quite easy for someone to fake it and the penalties for these companies are often far LESS then what they can get from you. They might use this to display "unknown", a fake number like "800-555-1212", a creative number like "867-5309/Jenny" (like the song) but they could also use logic to appear to be coming from your area code! You might get a call that looks like they are in your area and when they claim that they are at the "courthouse" and about to process a lawsuit against you, you might be inclined to believe them. Realize, that could be far, far away even located in another country. In fact, if the caller has a heavy accent (especially Indian, like the country) they are more than likely calling you from that country and so therefore aren’t anywhere near you.
Next, they might use fear. Fear is built until everyone of our genes and is an overriding force that will overpower logic if you allow it to. What can these callers use to try and get you scared? Simple. Lawsuits. Lawsuits are scary. You’ve all heard about multi-million dollar lawsuits and how the legal system isn’t always on your side and so when the caller claims that you’re within "minutes" of losing everything, you might get scared and give them a payment to avoid that.
Now, lets stop and think about this. Do you really believe that someone went through the tremendous cost to sue you, file appropriate forms, etc to try and collect on a debt that might not even exist? Even if you’re sure that it is a legitimate debt, more than likely it’s a debt from many, many years ago that’s considered uncollectable and was therefore purchased from the original owner for pennies on the dollar. In addition, I believe that its generally required that you receive notification of a potential lawsuit IN WRITING, often as a certified or registered letter. They generally can’t just say "oh by the way, your lawsuit is in a few minutes". Finally, even if they were actually suing you and got a judgment, doesn’t mean that they can just stop by your house and take your stuff. They are a number of steps that have to be taken to actually collect and are far from guaranteed – look at the Tobacco companies, they’ve pushed off judgments for decades…
Finally, lets talk about the "rush" factor. This is the technique used since the beginning of time to get you to make a rash decision without thinking it through. Maybe its someone claiming that you have "5 minutes before we prosecute" (yeah, right) or it could be some "special" deal where there is a $10,000 debt that you’re obligated to pay, but for this phone call only, they’ll give you a special "deal" or "settlement" price of $500 or $1,000. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t legitimate (or at least as legitimate as they could be) companies out there with real debts of yours that might be willing to settle for pennies on the dollar, but there is never a deal that expires. Why? Simple. Companies want to make money. They are going to tell you that it’s a limited time only because they want you to make a rash decision and they don’t want you discussing it with your spouse and family; they don’t want you thinking about it rationally; they don’t want you researching the issue, talking with other people online and in your community, nor do they want you talking with your friends and business partners or lawyers. They want you to ACT NOW. Here’s the thing, though. If you say "no thanks" but decide later (because you’ve researched it and it is a legitimate debt and is important to you/your others to get it paid off) to take them up on their offer, do you really believe that they are going to say "Sorry, but we aren’t going to take your money, that was a one time deal only". No! If they did that, you’d say, "Oh, never mind then…" and not pay anything. They’ll take what they can get and so there is absolutely NO ADVANTAGE whatsoever to making a rash decision.
The moment your phone rings, you need to have a single word in your mind and that’s a simple two letter word. NO. Say it with me, "N" "O", "NO!". No to people claiming this or that. No to debt collectors that threaten you, no to other people (even Friends or others) begging for money. No, no, no. You can always say Yes later.
Again, this is no way giving you any sort of legal advice – you should seek a lawyer immediately if faced with legal action.