Friday, March 28, 2014

Ronald McDonald, Deportation, and Identity Theft

   The other day, I got a phone call while I was at work. I wasn't there to take that call, and we aren't allowed personal calls at any rate, emergencies only, but my coworker who took the call told me all about it between bouts of laughter. Apparently, someone was trying to collect a debt, and apparently, this fool of a crook was calling himself Ronald McDonald.
   Hello, crooks! We didn't all fall off of the stupid train yesterday. There is no way (please let there be no way!) that any person is ever going to agree to pay off a supposed debt to someone named Ronald McDonald. That has scam written all over it.
   About two years back, I had information stolen. Everything; my entire identity, but while I have stopped one attempt at booking a hotel in London with my debit card, what these people mainly did was try to get me to pay off false debt. The biggest trick they used was to say that I had taken out a payday loan and never paid the loan back.
   I knew that this was false from the first time that the first person contacted me, but I couldn't figure out what was going on, because this woman was insisting that I owed her company $500. When I argued that I had never taken out  a payday loan, she responded with, "Well, you can fight this in court, but you will need two senior lawyers from a prestigious firm to fight this, and it will be very expensive. You will save money if you just Western Union us the amount." No joke, this is what she said, I remember this clearly, because I was just dumbfounded. I started demanding that she send me paperwork, showing what I owed with all the company information listed, and she refused. "We do not have to send you paperwork. The time for that is past, now you must pay."
   That was my first run-in with false debt collectors. When I had taken this call, I was not at home, I was out with my sister. When I got home, the first thing I did was to Google the phone number that she had called from. That's what Google is for, right? Linked to the phone number was a long list of people complaining that this was a bogus number, run by people trying to get you to pay for fake payday loans.
   That was the start of a year full of threatening phone calls. They called a million times a day, at home, at work, my family, all the while claiming that I owed different amounts of money to different payday loan companies. Every time I would Google the number and the company, and I would see page after page of testimonials claiming that these numbers and companies were fake, and pleas not to send them money through Western Union like they always requested.
   These calls were not pleasant however. I had stopped answering the phone, but they would leave messages saying different things; sometimes they were lawyers, sometimes they were policemen, sometimes they were FBI, and they would say things like they were going to drag me kicking and screaming to the courthouse if I did not comply, that they had my house under surveillance, and even more alarming, they would spew off my entire social security number and they would tell me my bank account numbers, all in an attempt into bullying me into sending them some money.
   All this time, I had been looking into what my rights were as a consumer, and trying to find out what actions that I could take against them, and I decided that I needed to gather more information about these people who were constantly calling me. Which meant that the next time they called, I decided I would answer the phone and try to pump them for more names, personal, company, ect.
  Waiting for them to call wasn't long at all, as by this time they were literally calling me about twenty times a day, and before long I had one of them on the phone, a guy this time, using some generic sounding name. Of all things, he claimed he was with the United Nations (of all things!) and that - wait for it - I was going to be deported if I didn't pay the debts that I owed. I was gobsmacked. Deported? Really? To where? I am, and always have been, a citizen of the United States. Where exactly where they going to deport me to? After that wonderful conversation, in which I lost my temper, causing our 'conversation' to devolve into a shouting match, I filled out reports to both the FTC (Fair Trade Commission) and the Attorney General, both of which have online forms specifically for false debt and identity theft.
   The amount of information I got from talking to the scammers didn't really justify the headache, and only gave me a few more false names to add to my report, as well as the new threat of deportation. If you know that the person trying to collect money from you is scamming you, honestly I recommend not talking to them at all. The conversations only get stupid and go around and around in circles.
   I've been battling false debt claims for quite a while now, and have changed most of my personal information, including bank account numbers, phone numbers, and even a change of address (although that was not prompted specifically by these issues). I've even been looking into changing my social security number, because I have been told that this is an option. Fighting this has made me really leery of anything done over the phone - I will not give nor even verify any personal information over the phone or through e-mail, not even my home address. If I happen to take a call from someone pulling this, I demand that they send paperwork through the mail - legally, they have to if you request this. Also, a real debt collector will always say, "This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used in this attempt." Or some variation thereof. If I don't hear those words, I hang up. Most of them call me at work now, because my work number is the only thing that I haven't changed over the years. Not a lot I can do about that, I've had the same job for going on seven years, and I have no plans to quit.
   Throughout all of these years, no Ronald McDonalds have ever gotten any money from me; not a cent, not even the time when they actually attempted to use my debit card information. I keep an eagle eye on all of my finances, including my credit report. You would think they would give up, but they just seem to keep pegging away. I think they are hoping that they can aggravate me so much that I will just give them some money in the hopes that they will go away and leave me alone. That's optimism at it's finest, there. 

No comments:

Post a Comment