On Your Side Alert: Warning about debt collection email

Published: Aug. 27, 2014 at 10:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2014 at 10:16 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A suspicious email claiming to be from a collection agency says you have an outstanding debt and the Better Business Bureau reports the company responsible uses threatening language to try to get unsuspecting consumers to pay.

An NBC12 viewer received one of the emails. After reading it red flags went up and the viewer contacted 12 On Your Side to warn others. The email is long and looks official, but the bottom line is the sender is after your cash. The note claims you owe an old debt and if you don't pay, you could be in legal trouble.

"One thing scammers are really good at is making things look real and look legitimate, but then when you start going into level two and three of questioning and getting more information, then the little voice in your head says 'maybe this isn't right,'" said forensic investigator Patrick Siewert.

The BBB says the company behind the email is ACS Incorporation Collection, located in Clearwater, FL. The company has an "F" rating, over 400 complaints and a BBB alert, warning others to steer clear. We tried to call the company to get some answers about the email and each time the person on the other end hung up. We also tried checking its website for answers and we couldn't find one. Consumer experts say these are all warning signs.

Our expert says people with recently deceased relatives are  a big target.

"They will call up and say hey, your cousin John or your brother George just died and he left a significant amount of debt and that is on you now, because you are a survivor," Siewert said. 

Before responding to any request of an old debt do your research on the company and ask for something in writing to verify you owe the money. Also, never give up your personal information through email or over the phone.

"When you send out your personal information, once it is out there, it's out there. It is like putting a picture on the internet, once it is out there it is out there," he explained.  

The best way to keep your information safe, don't reply to these type emails, just hit delete. Other warning signs to watch for, the debt collector refuses to give you information about your debt or is trying to collect a debt you do not recognize.

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