DA: Scammers using local numbers in debt collecting scheme

Dec 4, 2014 3:00 PM by News Staff

Authorities say scammers have been using local phone numbers in a debt collection scheme that has spread across the country.

According to the Butte County District Attorney's Office, Butte County residents have reported that callers have told them a debt is owed and payment must be made immediately. In the most recent version of the scam, a local private school received a call allegedly from Pacific Gas and Electric claiming that unless payment was made by debit card immediately the school's power would be cut off.

In other versions of the scam, the caller will pretend to be with a local law enforcement agency or the IRS and if the target doesn't immediately make a payment by giving up their credit/debit card number a warrant will be issued and the Sheriff/ Police will be coming immediately to arrest them.

All of the calls appear to be from a number originating in Butte County, but in reality the calls are from "spoofed numbers" which means it is a computer generated number, and the call could be coming from anywhere in the world.

Authorities say the majority of the callers have spoken with an Indian accent.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey has provided a list of things all legitimate debt collectors will NOT do:
• Use threats of violence or harm
• Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies)
• Use obscene or profane language
• Repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone
Debt collectors are also prohibited from saying:
• You will be arrested if you don't pay your debt
• They'll seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so
• Legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don't intend to take the action


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