North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is warning residents of the state to be on alert for criminals posing as payday loan operators and debt collectors.
According to a release from Stenehjem’s office, a Bismarck woman recently lost $2,500 in a payday loan scam when a caller told her a warrant was out for her arrest and if she didn’t immediately pay her loan debt, she would have to appear in court that day. The victim wired money immediately because she was intimidated, but later determined she didn’t owe any money for a loan.
Other reports have been filed from people who had filled out an online payday loan application but did not complete the process. In some cases, the people had taken out a loan from an online lender but paid it off months or years ago. Scammers likely already know personal information about the victims, which can mislead consumers into believing the call is from a legitimate debt collector.
“It is risky to assume that every Web site offering instant credit or loan approval is legitimate,” Stenehjem said in the release. “Likewise, never volunteer or confirm such information in response to a phone call.”
Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection division, urged those receiving suspicious collection calls to remember to always ask the collector to provide written documentation that substantiates the debt they are trying to collect and contact the original creditor to ask whether the debt has been paid.
Federal law prohibits a collector from making threats to have you arrested, use obscene language or imply you have committed a crime, according to the release.