CONSUMER ALERT: Next time you get a phone call from a charity or a company claiming you owe them money, do some research first. One woman did just that, and avoided being the victim of a scam.
Janet Leimenstoll says, "I had the proof and they knew it."
Janet is serious and determined about not being a victim of scam artists.
She says, ""I had purchased years ago some products through the Handicapped Workers and I hadn't bought anything from them in years and years."
Yet out of the blue, Janet received a call, from someone who said they were from that charity, saying she owed them money.
Janet says, ""They threaten you with sending you to court and they say it will cost you thousands in court fees so you start hearing thousands of dollars."
Kim Gordon is a US Postal Inspector. She says, ""People were told 'you owe this money', we are going to send it to a collection agency, and your credit will be ruined."
So, Janet paid them $150.00, three times the cost of the original purchase because of late fees and fines.
Janet says, ""I was truly furious when I realized they were scamming me and I didn't quite know what to do."
She decided to do some investigating about the dates she was told she bought the item. She ordered her phone records for the day.
"They sent me the whole month from that year, " says Janet. "I had no incoming or outgoing calls on that day."
Once she confirms she never purchased any items, she called the company to get a refund.
Janet says, "The lady was very mad. I said I have proof that I didn't buy this, because I don't have a call coming in or out that day, I have my phone records."
Janet got a full refund. Not everyone was so lucky. Postal Inspectors say 150-200 victims lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Kim says, ""If someone calls you asking you to donate to a cause, have them send you some information through the mail so you can check it out."
Inspectors also have this advice: "Never be pressured to make this decision on the phone right now, any reputable company would be happy to send you information and take your time."
Postal Inspectors were tipped off to the case after almost 400 complaints were filed against the company.