Sunday, August 15, 2004

Wrong number

Collections Made Easy: Fast, Efficient, Proven Techniques to Get Cash from Your CustomersHere's something that's sure to raise your blood pressure. Say, you walk in the door after a long weekend and play your voicemail messages. One of the messages says, in a voice that sounds like Peter Jennings on steroids:

Hello, this is Private Detective Scott Peters calling about a matter that may or may not involve you. Please call 1-866-555-5555 as soon as possible to resolve this matter.

Then you play another message, recorded the next day, which says:

This is Private Detective Scott Peters with Federated Security calling about an urgent matter. Please call 1-866-555-5555 immediately to resolve this matter.

So I'm pretty convinced that this is a scam or that we forgot to pay a bill somewhere along the line. We're punctual with our bills, but mistakes happen. Like the time in '95 that our water got shut off for several hours when we lost the water bill and never got the "warning notice" that supposedly was sent.

So I called up Private Detective Scott Peters. As expected, I got a pleasant you lady who identified herself as representative 4110. In a call-center. Probably east of Mumbai. I said that I'd received these mysterious calls and wanted an explanation. She asked for my phone number. She paused as she looked it up.

"Does Deborah Ross live in this house?", she asked. No, I responded.

"Is this phone number located at 312 West Oaks Boulevard?" No.

"Do you know a Deborah Ross?". No.

"Thank you. We'll take you off our list and will not contact you again." Disconnect.

The nearest I can figure is that this is a heavy-duty collections company that has bought a lot of bad debt on the cheap and is trying to collect it. For example, the credit-card companies can sell their uncollected debt to third-parties for fractions of the face value. A third-party company is then legally permitted to attempt to collect it and keep whatever they make. It can be a lucractive business, I'm sure. And this sort of call probably represents a new weapon in the collections war: ultra-aggressive lead investigation of people with the same surnames.

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