NEW MARKET, Ala. (WHNT) – Another day, another scam. Thursday afternoon, Joyce Bates was shocked to find an outstanding bill in her mailbox. The debt collector was asking for nearly $1100, due immediately.
But something didn’t quite seem right about the payment request, so Bates did some investigating.
“‘This notice has been sent to you by a collection agency the record of Dish Network shows your account balance of $1,083.68,” read Bates.
The letter was from Convergent Outsourcing, a company claiming to be a collection agency representing Dish Network. But there was a problem.
“I have never had dish network,” said Bates.
Bates called Dish Network, they had no record of an outstanding balance. She then called the collection agency, she says they gave her ‘the run around.’ Finally, Bates called the Better Business Bureau.
According to the BBB convergent outsourcing has had 584 complaints filed against them in just the past 3 years.
“We’re finding it to be very common and finding that a key element is they’ll say there’s a debt but if you act quickly they’ll negotiate with you,” said Michele Mason, with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama. “In this case they’re offering to cut it in half if you settle with them.”
Bates’ notice offered just that, claiming if she paid immediately she would only owe $541.
When Bates spoke with a representative they even asked for her social security number.
It’s a scenario Mason has heard time and time again.
“When she answered ‘why do you need my social security number?’ they said fine we’ll just write it off. Which clearly indicates there is some sort of ploy here,” said Mason.
Mason says it’s easy to tell if a debt collection agency is legitimate. If you receive a suspicious debt collection call or letter, “don’t get in a panic.” Call the company supposedly owe money to directly to verify if you really owe a debt.
“If you really owe debt and they are contacting you for the first time, they’ll give you time to verify it,” said Mason.
You can contact the BBB of North Alabama at 256-850-0719 or the toll-free number 1-866-94-BBB-19.