Oct 17, 2013 1:10 AM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham
It's a phone call nobody likes to get: the dreaded bill collector.
But how do you know when that phone call is from a legitimate collector, versus someone who just wants to talk you into sending them money?
One Tucson man wanted to get an answer to that very question.
Jacob Dumkrieger contacted the News 4 Tucson Investigators, after the sinister-sounding phone calls started about two weeks ago.
The caller said there were charges and a claim against Dumkreiger, and he needed to address the matter with "the firm."
"It's almost a daily thing. He's calling me and leaving these voicemails for me. And, then when I try calling back the number, there's no answer. It just rings and rings and rings, until I finally hang up," Dumkreiger says.
The calls didn't stop there. They also called Dumkreiger's parents, his sisters and even his girlfriend.
"I don't know the severity of it. It's very uncomfortable thinking that someone is trying to find me or get a hold of me when I don't know why," Dumkreiger says.
He also tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, he has no idea who could be making the calls.
"If I did, it wouldn't be so upsetting. But I have no idea what it could be about," Dumkreiger says.
Though the caller mentions a ‘claim' and ‘charges,' he doesn't provide specific details.
"That's I was so surprised and concerned. I mean, if he's saying that I have a claim and I have charges against me and I haven't heard about them, how is that fair to me," Dumkreiger says.
Nick LaFleur with the better business bureau tells the news 4 Tucson investigators, it's a red flag when a debt collector is threatening, using strong language, or being extremely vague about their identity.
"We suggest you be extremely wary of it. A lot of times scam artists they'll call people, and basically have a made up debt, and they'll just try to scare people into paying," LaFleur says.
If you do get a call from someone who says you owe money, you should ask for the company's name and address. That way, you can verify the debt in writing.
"You want to send them a written request for them to validate the debt. So, they have to send you something that shows who you owe the debt to, how much you owe, so that if something is wrong, you can contest it. There are a number of options," LaFleur says.
If the caller won't provide that information, then the best thing to do is hang up.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators tried calling the number that was left on Jacob's voicemail, but that number just continued to ring.
It's also important to know that some callers will use so-called ‘spoofing' applications, to make it appear like they're calling from a local number.
If you have something you would like us to investigate, email the News 4 Tucson Investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org.