SCAM ALERT: Be wary of hot check phone scams
Tyler, Texas (KETK) -- — The BBB and the District attorney's office in Smith and Nacogdoches counties have received numerous reports from residents regarding a recent telephone scam. Individuals are being targeted by phone under the pretense that the callers are attempting to collect money for hot checks which were written several years ago.
Residents are further advised that if they do not wire money, in some cases up to hundreds to thousands of dollars; or provide an account number, there will be a warrant for their arrest from law enforcement. The callers are reportedly calling from an 866 area code, and indicate they are a collection firm representing the Hot Check Division of various District Attorneys’ offices.
“Law enforcement may make a courtesy call to notify that a claim has been made, said Andy Dunklin, Constable with Precinct 2 of Smith County. “They may collect fines, however, they will never collect the amount of the hot check.”
If you receive a call from someone trying to collect a debt, BBB advises:
• Do not give information to someone who initiates the call without verifying who they are first. Look up the number of the business or organization; do not call the number provided by the caller.
• Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
• Call law enforcement to verify whether or not there is a warrant is out for your arrest.
• If you believe you owe money to the court, contact the county and pay your fines.
“If a customer has written a bad check, the receiver of the check will usually turn it over to a collection agency or the hot check division with the DA’s office to retrieve funds. After an allotted amount of time, a warrant will be issued if they have not repaid the money”, said Ken Hartley, Security/Loss Prevention Officer with Texas Bank & Trust. “If someone receives one of these calls or notifications and had not first been notified by their banking institution, then they need to verify it.”
Consumers can verify the caller by hanging up and checking with their financial institution to see if there are any actual debt collection cases against them. They can also call the Constable’s office or whatever department the “collector” is claiming to work for.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.
(The BBB contributed to this article)