Consumer Alert: Debt letter scam

A News 12 New Jersey viewer contacted Kane In Your Corner about a letter that claimed his debts could be dramatically reduced.

A News 12 New Jersey viewer contacted Kane In Your Corner about a letter that claimed his debts could be dramatically reduced. (9/23/16)

EDISON - Have you received a letter offering debt relief? You might want to think twice before dialing the phone number.

Daniel, a News 12 New Jersey viewer, contacted Kane In Your Corner about a letter that claimed his debts could be dramatically reduced.

"Your creditor is now willing to negotiate a reduction of any total outstanding balance," the letter said. It even provided specific dollar figures: $19,236 owed, which could be reduced to just $6,732.

The problem was that Daniel was certain he didn't owe that much money. And the letter's fine print said "any financial information…is for example purposes only and does not reflect any actual debt you may or may not owe." In fact, customers nationwide have reported receiving the same letter, with the identical dollar figures.

Kane In Your Corner found the biggest red flag may have been something that was not in the letter: a company name. It was impossible to determine who had sent it. A reverse directory search of the phone number also revealed nothing. And when News 12 New Jersey's Walt Kane called, the person who answered refused to divulge the company name, first saying, "I think you might have the wrong number," before hanging up.

The letter's fine print says customers may be referred to a debt-relief agency, so it's possible that's who is behind the mailings. But Kane In Your Corner advises that consumers who want to hire a nonprofit consumer debt counseling agency choose one only after researching their track record and checking references, rather than accepting the services of an agency that sends out anonymous letters.

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