The phone rang this morning, just as I was walking out the door with the girls. "Hey Bridgett!" was the voice. I didn't recognize him, but once he said, "This is Ian," I felt bad. I hadn't talked to my brother since December--we communicate mostly through gmail chat and forwarded youtube videos (like the lovely Amet).
He had a job for me. Go up to the computer and google this phone number for me, was the request. 770-783-1965. He explained that it Ashley had answered it, on the phone at home, and was totally freaked out. Kind of like a collection agency, but not quite--references to a lawsuit against him in his local municipality, for instance. Even had a court case number. Kinda threatening on the phone. Her name was Lynn Deatrix, she told her, but when Ashley tried to call her back, it was disconnected. Seemed fishy to Ian--he even looked up the area code, which is Fulton County, Georgia. Called their sheriff department, who told Ian that there weren't enough numbers in the court case reference to be one of theirs. But Ian, who is a small business owner with previous horrendous credit (college plus credit cards, you know...) thought he'd better just be sure.
Sure enough, you google the number and it goes to several message boards. Total scam. Trying to play on folks' fears--after the phone calls get more and more threatening, letters get sent demanding money for this court case (or sometimes they take the position of debt collectors). Seems they buy information, because they knew Ian's name and phone number (their land line is listened in Ashley's maiden name), but it's all out of date and just a little off-kilter.
I told Ian to maybe pull his credit reports, forgetting that he's not a car salesman anymore and this is more complicated for a layman. He figured he would, just to be sure. I let him go and quickly took girls to school and went to coffee. When I got home, Ian had left a message: the sheriff's department was apologetic. Please disregard all that nonsense. They get at least 10 calls a day from around the country asking about Ms. Deatrix and her friends.
Ian and I considered the current economy, how people even with good credit can't get loans. He figured times must be tough for identity thieves, too. So, are they switching tactics to "collection agencies"? I just can't quite feel bad.