Illinois’ Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, is warning Illinois residents to be on the alert for con artists posing as debt collectors.  The scam is simple – the phony debt collectors randomly call consumers threaten them with legal action unless the victims authorize payments from their bank accounts for bogus outstanding payday loans.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office recently received a high volume of consumer complaints about the debt collection scam.  Most of the consumers report they have taken out payday loans in the past, usually from an online lender, but paid off the loans long ago. In at least one instance, the consumer reportedly filled out an online payday loan application but never completed the process.

Madigan stressed that these complaints involve outright con artists, not innocent mistakes by legitimate debt collectors. Victims who have contacted Madigan’s office report that the phone calls seem to originate from outside the United States. Often, the fake collector already knows personal information about the consumer, such as their name, Social Security Number, and place of employment, which can lead the consumer to believe they are dealing with a legitimate collector. Also, the scammers usually have the consumer’s bank account information on file and ask the consumer to confirm the accuracy of the information.

The bogus debt collectors use a variety of names, including: Morgan & Associates, Federal Bureau of Investigators, DNR Recovery, DNI Recovery, Legal Accounts Association, Department of Law and Enforcement, CashNet USA, America Legal Services, Quick Cash, and ACS.

The Attorney General urged those who receive a suspicious debt collection call to remember the following advice:

  • You cannot go to jail for failing to pay a debt;
  • If you are threatened in any way by the debt collector, hang up and file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office;
  • Do not give out any personal information over the telephone, including bank account numbers or credit card numbers;
  • When in doubt, ask the debt collector to provide you with documentation that substantiates the debt they are trying to collect;
  • Contact the original creditor and ask whether the debt has been paid. If it has not, confirm that the debt was sold to a third party collector before making a payment.

Illinois Attorney General’s Press Release

While the Alabama Attorney General’s Office has not posted a similar press release, we have received numerous inquiries about from consumers complaining of similar collection calls.  Debtors’ rights attorney, Micah Adkins, says, “We have received a number of complaints from consumers thinking the calls were legitimate.  The high percentage of calls to persons who actually received payday loans and the personal information known by the bogus  collectors is indicative of a larger problem, perhaps a data breach or data loss by a national payday lender.”

If you have received collection calls for a payday loan and the caller knows personal information about you, including your bank account number, you may be a victim of identity theft.  Contact consumer protection attorney Micah Adkins for a free legal consultation.