This may be the spookiest time of year for you but it has been spooky around here all year. Just in time for Halloween, we have put together a compilation of the scariest, spookiest, spine-chilling, and ominous debt scams. There are many ways to measure the largest scams, but most measure them by the number of people affected and the total dollars scammed.
10. The Debt Collection Scam
It is burdensome enough having to deal with legitimate collection calls when your finances are out of whack and you fall behind on your debts. Reports are coming in from all across the county reporting illegitimate debt collectors harassing consumers for payments on loans that never received or for amounts much greater than what they owe.
9. The Debt Impostor Scam
Calls from supposedly the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that that you owe taxes that was never paid and you are going to be fined, you are going to prison or you are going to be arrested if you don’t pay and pay it quick. They are able to even spoof the phone number so you can never really be sure who is calling you.
8. Identity Theft Scam
Identity theft complaints declined from 16 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2016, with 29 percent of 2016 consumers reporting that their data was used to commit tax fraud. There was a jump in consumers who reported that their stolen data was used for credit card fraud; this figure rose from nearly 16 percent in 2015 to more than 32 percent in 2016.
7. Payday Lending Scam
Earlier this year, payday lender and famous race car driver Scott Tucker was convicted of running a $2 billion payday loan scheme that authorities said exploited over 4.5 million consumers with predatory interest rates and deceptive loan terms. Tucker cleverly took advantage of the “tribal sovereignty” afforded to Indian Tribes by partnering up with tribes in Oklahoma and Nebraska. Earlier this year, Scott Tucker and his companies were fined a record $1.26 billion by the Federal Trade Commission.
6. The Debt Relief Scam
Settling debts serves an important role in our credit driven economy. There are many reputable debt relief companies out there but there are a handful of bad actors that you need to watch out for. The scam generally starts out with an offer to lower your interest rate and consolidate your debt. Sound familiar? Even if your credit is bad, these scammers claim to be able to reduce your interest rates to as low as 3.99%. They will make promises that are too good to be true and then hit you with requests for upfront fees. Run for your life.
5. Student Debt Relief Scam
Student debt relief scams have been around for a while. The scam charge borrowers upfront fees with the false promise of helping to reduce loan payments, lower interest rates, or wipe out the entire debt. More than 30 companies have been sued by the government over the past month for scamming student loan borrowers. They called it “Operation Game of Loans” and they hit hard.
4. Sweepstakes Debt Scam
These Sweepstakes Debt Scam may be the most wicked of scams. Consumers are notified that they just won millions of dollars, a fancy car or a dream vacation. The catch is you need to pay an upfront fee to collect on your prize. These upfront fees are high enough that many max out their credit cards and even take out expensive payday loans to make the payments. It ends with your money and sometimes even identity being stolen.
3. Advance Fee Loan Scam
Advance fee debt scams start by offering credit cards, business loans and personal lines of credit to borrowers with challenged credit histories. The offers are too good to be true and require the “marked consumer” to pay an advance fee to process the application. Sometimes these companies even call their advance fees “due dilligence costs.” Of course, there are never any loans granted and the fine print allows the company to keep the advance payments as earned fees.
2. Hurricane Charity Scam
Disasters bring out the best in Americans but they also bring out scammers and opportunists. Top 10 Jungle issued a Life Line Alert on this last month. Watch out for the middleman collecting money for the victims that need to get out of debt. Don’t fall for the cash mousetrap! Watch out for the good neighbor collecting money for victims. Stay away from financial advisors that use charity as a way to break the ice and try to build a relationship with you. Watch out for charity emails. Beware of Social Media. And finally, look out for the copy-cat name charities.
1. Equifax Credit Score Scam
According to Equifax, the personal financial information of over 145 million Americans was compromised in a massive “hack” or data breach from mid-May through July 2017. Cyber Criminals accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers. Equifax said hackers also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. As if that isn’t enough, a new scam has arisen. Consumers are receiving phone calls supposedly from Equifax with the purpose of verifying financial information. Our advice is not to share any personal financial information over the phone. Don’t trust the Caller ID. They have already figured out how to spoof the phone number.