Consumer advocates over the weekend were busy issuing various warnings on debt-related matters, giving people more reason to hate debt collectors. But interestingly, neither of the warnings had anything to do with legitimate debt collection agencies.
On Saturday, the Better Business Bureau posted an alert about a debt collection scam currently being conducted by a fake collection agency purporting to be from Spokane, Washington. The BBB warning noted that the calls coming from the operation appear to be from a Texas number.
The con begins with a phone call claiming to be from a police officer. The caller tells the victim they owe money and if they do not pay, they will be arrested. The caller claims their name is “Wilkinson.” If asked about details of the debt, the caller refuses.
The BBB did note that the scam is coming from a “fake” debt collector and that the business is most likely not legitimate.
Also on Saturday, the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a report titled “The Outskirts of Hope: How Ohio’s Debtors’ Prisons Are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities,” which contains the results of a study on the practice of jailing Ohio residents that do not pay fines and fees.
The study focused only on debt owed to Ohio municipal governments and not private businesses. The use of “debtor’s prison” in the title and high-profile status of the ACLU have drawn quite a bit of attention to the study.
The ACLU does note that these types debts are civil, not criminal in nature. “They must therefore be recovered through civil debt-collection methods, not through criminal sanctions,” according to the report. The study concludes that the Ohio Supreme Court must “promulgate clear rules that will end debtors’ prisons in Ohio and hold accountable any courts that continue to flout the law.”