Theresa Schabow prides herself in having excellent credit.
But for the last two years she’s received random calls from debt collectors, claiming she owed money.
“They said that I had taken out a loan. It was about $1,100. I said I don't owe you any money,” says Schabow.
The callers falsely claimed they were with American Web Loan and assured her that she owes money.
Schabow was adamant that she did not but the calls didn't stop.
She tried to convince them they had the wrong lady but they wanted proof. She went as far as filing a police report, but the calls only got worse.
"They not only call me, they called my son, they called my work," said Schabow.
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Even though the law prohibits debt collector from discussing anyone's debt with a third party, that didn't stop these folks.
“I just want to know how to get rid of these people,” Schabow says, “Somebody said they had a lawsuit against me. They were trying to subpoena me.”
That's when it clicked that these callers may not be who they were claiming to be, and her identity may have been stolen.
The NBC 5 Responds team reached out to American Web Loan to find out who was behind the calls and if this loan even existed.
The company confirmed they weren't the ones calling Mrs. Schabow, but said her date of birth and social security number were used to issue a loan for $1,100.
They now believe she is a victim of identity theft.
American Web Loan was never able to get ahold of Schabow for repayment. That's because when her loan was taken out, the thieves submitted different contact information.
American Web Loan was able to connect with Schabow once NBC 5 Responds got involved.
The people who stole her identity may be the ones behind the debt collector calls, or may have sold it to others to pose as debt collectors. This scheme is referred to as a “Phantom Debt Collection Scam.”
As a result, American Web Loan confirmed that Schabow is not responsible for the loan.
However, that hasn't brought her much peace of mind. She says she will be looking at her credit score frequently for the coming years.
“Somebody out there has [my] identity and I’m scared they're going to use it for other things,” she said. “I'll always be a bit uneasy about the situation.”
This is identity theft with a twist. To protect yourself and your personal information, here are Samantha Chatman’s Solutions:
- Always monitor your credit report
- Keep a close watch for any unfamiliar accounts that are in your name
- Visit Identitytheft.gov if you believe your identity has been stolen
- If you get a call from a debt collector, find out who's calling and where the alleged debt came from