Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) is asking people in Ohio House District 96 to be aware of a new trend involving consumer-related scammers posing as debt collection agencies. 

Rep. Cera said he is bringing this to the attention of residents in his district because his office received a complaint from a concerned constituent regarding phone calls requesting money on a second mortgage that was settled over 15 years ago. The case was shared with the Ohio Attorney General’s office for review, and according to the information from the complaint, it appears to be fraudulent.

“It is best to err on the side of caution. Should you receive any unsolicited communications from a debt collector, ask them to verify the debt in writing,” said Rep. Cera.

Rep. Cera indicated that state and federal law requires a debt collector to verify the debt in writing within five days of their initial phone call. An individual also has the right to request further validation of the debt. Scammers often use multiple means to sound legitimate and to intimidate individuals until they give personal information. 

All consumers should be leery of foreclosure rescue plans that ask you not to contact your lender directly. Additionally, experts indicate that one should never wire-transfer money to a stranger.  

Other parts of the state have reported scam artists who are calling consumers and posing as law enforcement officials or government officials and demanding money. Officials have noticed that scammers will go as far as to alter telephone numbers on a person’s caller ID to look like local calls and then demand money. Rep. Cera advised that a rule of thumb is to always request written information and if you don’t receive any, it is a good indication of a scam. 

The lawmaker encourages individuals to never pay money up front in order to qualify for a loan, grant or credit card. Lastly, it is important to remember that a person’s credit can be repaired or consolidated by contacting a credit counseling agency.  

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