A debt collection company named Fresh Start Mediation Bureau has taken down its website -- which uses a fake Waco address -- after reports escalated of the company telling consumers they owed money to other companies.
The website, which looks like a stock WordPress website, claims it is located at 4601 Bosque Blvd. To some Waco residents, the address might seem familiar because 4601 Bosque Blvd is the location of the Extraco Events Center, where the Heart of Texas Fair is held.
Channel 6 news reached out to Wes Allison, CEO of the Extraco Events Center, and asked if there was a debt collection company on the property.
Surprise, surprise. He said 'no.'
A South Carolina man was one of several the debt collection company may have tried to scam, and he contacted Channel 6 about his experience.
David Giles said the company told him he owed another company money, and began to ask for his Social Security Number along with other personal information. Giles told Channel 6 the collections caller became combative when he would not cough up his social security number.
According to Better Business Bureau Regional Director Bill McGuire, this was a common red flag when dealing with debt collection imposters.
"A fictitious collector will probably start threatening you," McGuire said. "'We need this money today!' They may even get into cursing you."
Fortunately, Giles did not lose his cool. Instead, he calmly gave the company an opportunity to prove its legitimacy.
"I finally told the last guy... here is the time window if you want to send the papers or something. He said 'we already have your social and we will collect,'" Giles said.
McGuire said Giles asking the collector to send him a document stating his alleged debt is the best strategy in such phone calls. A legitimate company should have your address on file.
However, if the person on the other end of the phone is a scammer... he or she will back off.
"If they are not a legitimate collection agency, they're not going to send you anything in writing... and they are not going to call you again..because you just proved you are a savvy consumer," McGuire said.
Giles said the company has not contacted him since his encounter, and urges people who receive similar calls to not give the debt collector any information. Instead, Giles said to simply ask for a document to be delivered that describes what you owe.