Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thanks for the offer, but no.

Monday, I got an official-looking letter in the mail. It was from a collections agency that said they'd been assigned my outstanding debt to Verizon Wireless and were authorized to offer me a negotiated settlement. The terms they laid out were that they'd cut my debt of $198.07 by 50%. To accept this offer, I was to send them a check or my credit card number, and the matter would be taken care of promptly.

Quite a deal, right? EXCEPT that I don't have an outstanding debt (of any amount) to Verizon Wireless. I've never even had a Verizon Wireless account. And what's truly pitiful about this was that I didn't even realize that I don't have a Verizon Wireless account until Steve came home and pointed it out. The letter had me so freaked out, I assumed I must have missed a bill somewhere along the line. Thank God for his level headed reminder, "Um, Trish--we're with AT &T..."

Is this the new scam in these dire economic times? Are evil people sending out fraudulent collections letters, figuring that some folks have so many of these coming in that any deal offering a 50% discount sounds like a bargain (especially if it's in a small amount, say under $100) so they'll blindly send checks and okay credit card payments? That's just evil.

Fortunately, we're in the middle of mortgage stuff for our move, so I have a recent copy of my credit report handy. I looked it over to make sure no one was doing anything funky with my identity. After that was all clear, I started fuming.

Here's my question, in case any of you know: am I supposed to do anything with this letter, or report it some how? Or can I just deep-six it and move on with life?


Julia said...

I think evil is exactly the right word to describe it. I saw a headline recently that said because of the recession there had been an increase in scams. I bet your local authorities would want to know about it. I'd start by calling the police station and asking them how you should proceed.

LizB said...

Personally I'd call Verizon Wireless itself to confirm that they have no record of turning over any account to a collections agency. But that's only because I'm obsessive like that. (And I sure as hell wouldn't call these people-- they'd probably ask for your SSN or something to "confirm" your identity. :-P)

I've heard of this before, though-- I've also heard that they'll do this to people whose elderly relatives are recently deceased. It's even easier to believe someone would fall for "oh, Dad must have had a $300 phone bill he forgot to pay".

Evil, like you said.

Liza said...

I would call Verizon too. I would also report the letter to the Better Business Bureau so they can post a notice on their site and call you local police station.

Laraine Herring said...

The Attorney General is your best bet. They handle mail fraud (it's a federal offense). We get lots of these in AZ, and our AG has been very proactive with going on the news & broadcasting exactly what the letters say. I think it's important to let someone know so that you may save someone else from unknowingly forking over some $$.

LEstes65 said...

Some people need a good boot upside the head. I'm volunteering as I have some awesome biker boots.