On 9/30/08, a message was left on my voicemail at work at 6:31pm from a Michael Kennedy from ARA Associates. He said that his number is 888-310-1550, ext. 3076 and added, 'When you call, please refer to case #334089. This requires your attention immediately.'
Because he left such scant information, I ignored the call.
On 10/24/08, this Michael Kennedy left another message on my work voicemail at 11:02am. This time, he identified himself as being from Asset Recovery Associates. He gave me the same case number and phone number to call. He stated that there was 'going to be a decision soon that could have a very negative impact' on me. He added that he knew I was a working lady so he would be there from 8am until 12 noon on Saturday.
All of this sounded familiar to me because on August 21, 2006, I received a letter from Financial Credit Services with the same sort of message and instructions to call. I called, spoke to a Stacy King, and was told that they were trying to collect on a very old debt (I can't remember how old, but it was something like 18 or 20 years) owed by my ex-husband from whom I've been divorced for 23 years.
I was incredulous and said that I couldn't possibly be held liable for this and offered to give her my ex-husband's address and phone number. She insisted that since we were married when the debt was incurred, I was responsible and failure to pay would result in a report to the credit bureau and hurt my credit rating. She offered to let me settle the debt for a reduced sum ($165.00) and stated that if I did not do so on that day, I would have to pay the full judgment and my credit rating would be impacted.
Idiot that I was, I actually gave her my checking account information and agreed she could withdraw the funds electronically. Afterwards, I spoke to a friend about this and they told me I had been scammed. They had just heard about this scam from Clark Howard and told me that there was a statute of limitations on debt collection and what they were doing is illegal. I checked this out on Clark Howard's website and realized I had indeed been scammed.
I called Stacy King back, told her what I had discovered, said that I was stopping payment and would be reporting them to the FCC and BBB, threats I unfortunately never followed through on. On the next business day, I contacted my credit union to see if the funds had been withdrawn. They had not and I instructed them not to release the funds and to notify me if anyone tried to access them.
Because of that experience, I googled Asset Recovery Associates and found that - surprise! - they are also known as Financial Credit Services. I looked up the case number they gave me in 2006 and sure enough, #334089, the very same as given to me by Michael Kennedy on 9/30/08 and 10/24/08!
This time, I intend to make good on my threats of 2006 and then some!!