Pittsburgh consumers should be on the lookout for a potential new bad credit loan scheme that may be popping up across the city after a local woman was the target of a scam.
Speaking in an interview with a local television news station, Courtney Petrishen explained that she was told to pay thousands of dollars for an old payday loan she took out a few years ago. If she refused to pay up then she would head to prison.
The problem was that she never took out such a loan in the first place.
According to Petrishen, the individuals knew a lot about her personal information, which frightened her to a certain extent. She even wanted to pay some of the money to avoid imprisonment.“Regardless of the type of loan you take out, you should never pay to obtain that loan. Any so-called business that demands a fee or payment to receive a loan is a scam, period”.
What happened was she received an email informing her that she could face legal prosecution at a courthouse in the coming days. The initial amount claimed by the culprits was $469, but since she didn’t pay over the course of a few years then the amount soared to around $13,000.
Although Petrishen did apply for a bad credit loan on the Internet a few years ago, she never once took one out.
“He knew the last four of my Social, my birth date, where I lived,” she said. “He had my routing account number, my bank account number, everything. He knew my middle name.”
What scared Petrishen was the fact that the personal information listed in the email made the entire ordeal appear legitimate. However, she decided to contact her financial institution and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office; both parties confirmed with Petrishen that it was a scam.
Investigators note that scammers may have access to genuine bad credit loan applications. They say that in numerous scenarios those who do usually contact the applicants and harass customers who applied for payday loans.
It is recommended that if you are contacted then you should immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Caitlin Driscoll, with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Western Pennsylvania, urged everyone to be “suspicious” if there is a claim that immediate action must be taken to avoid “dire consequences.” The BBB actually has a list of things you can do if you are contacted by a potential debt collector, including requesting official documentation of the debt; never confirm or verify personal information until you verify the debt collector; and verify the claimed debt.
Last month, the FTC charged a data broker operation, alleging the data brokers had sold payday loan applicants’ financial information to scammers, who then allegedly took millions of dollars from consumers bank accounts and credit cards.
The lawsuit notes that the data brokers in question purchased bad credit loan applications and then sold them to several companies, like Ideal Financial Solutions, which acquired 500,000 applications and took $7.1 million from customer bank accounts.
“Scammers used consumer information they bought from this operation to make millions in unauthorized charges,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “Companies that collect people’s sensitive information and give it to scammers can expect to hear from the FTC.”
The FTC documents were filed in a Nevada U.S. district court.