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844 'Area Code' Used In Phantom Debt Scam

*** A great resource that I highly recommend is an online service that you can use to find out who is actually calling you - Click Here To Do A Reverse Phone Number Search.

I received a call last night from an elderly relative that was very distraught. In fact, they were crying on the phone as they tried to explain to me their predicament. They received a call late yesterday afternoon from an individual claiming to be a representative of a debt mediation service. My relative was told that they owed nearly $9,000 on an old credit card bill. They were offered a 'settlement' on the account for just over $1,000. The individual demanded that the $1,000 be paid immediately or they were going to 'file a judgment' and place a lien on their home for the full $9,000.

Check Out This Brian Ross Investigation From 2012


My relative had a vague memory of an account with the credit card that was referenced, but did not believe that they owed any balance (and had not heard anything about this account in years). They gave me the phone number that the call originated from (which had an 844 prefix). I became highly suspicious when my Google search for that 'area code' led me to several scam warnings (The 844 prefix is a not an area code, but a new toll free number that went into effect just a few months ago). These fake collection calls are very persuasive and the caller will have personal information that is used to convince the victim (sometimes even their Social Security number). 


The scam has a few variations - sometimes the call is regarding a consumer debt, and other times it involves a tax or government obligation. The tip off is the high pressure for an immediate payment by way of a cash card (Green Dot, etc...). In this case I called the individual personally on behalf of my relative. You can imagine what happened next. I started asking detailed questions about their claim. The man began yelling at me and said that if my relative did not pay him that night he was going to 'file his judgment and place a lien on their home.' I asked him how he obtained a judgment as there was never a lawsuit filed. I told him that I had already checked the county court website and there was nothing on this. I asked him for a case number and court location for the lawsuit. Let's just say that the yelling became louder and more intense. A few seconds later he simply hung up on me and that was the end of it. 

*** A great resource that I highly recommend is an online service that you can use to find out who is actually calling you - Click Here To Do A Reverse Phone Number Search.

Even after calling my relative and explaining to them that it was all a scam, they just could not accept what I was telling them. I had to spend nearly 30 minutes going over the fact that there was no lawsuit ever filed against them, all of the scam warnings that I found on the Internet about the 844 area code, etc... This is how truly convincing these calls are. In this case we never got to the point of any specific instructions on how to facilitate the payment. The odd twist, however, was that my relative was told that the payment would be picked up at her home that night. This may be a new twist on the scam, we will see. 

Please take a moment and warn your friends and family.

Helping you make the most of God's money! 

  James L. Paris 
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