The Federal Trade Commission says Joel Tucker, a Kansas man, got his hands on some very valuable data like social security numbers and banking information. But FTC attorney Michael Tankersley says they don’t know how Tucker supposedly got the information. Tucker himself did not comment on the allegations.
The commission says it knew Tucker eventually sold the data to debt collection agencies in places like Houston, Chicago, and New York. The FTC says he told collection agencies that people had outstanding debts and the agencies were pressuring people to pay.
“[That] resulted in debt collectors calling consumers and demanding repayment of this fake debt, ”says Tankersley. “Consumers often take out a payday loan and then [are] contacted about repaying the loan and failing to realize that the loan they are supposed to repay is not the same one they took out. “
People could also have been intimidated into paying the fake debts.
“This was not about facts,” says Ford. “I’ll pester you until you send us the payment and if you tell me you don’t owe the money that wasn’t part of the discussion.”
Part of the discussion was the dire consequences consumers will face if they fail to pay. The FTC says it has evidence that people involved in the Tucker scam faced imprisonment.
Ford says that in his experience, debt collection agents were never asked how they got people to pay. Instead, they were rewarded for the results.
“It’s about commissions,” says Ford. “If you were really good, you got more.”
In the Tucker scam, the FTC says thousands of people responded to the threats and paid money they did not owe. The “debt” was set at around 300 US dollars each.
The Trade Commission helped stop payments, but Michael Tankersley says other people are likely to cheat in the same way.
“In Texas and elsewhere, consumers need to be suspicious of people who claim they are in debt and be sensitive and careful about disclosing information,” he says.
Remember, if collection agencies ask you to pay your debt, whether it is real debt or not, they will not be able to send you to jail.