I usually am always filtering out scammers in my mailbox, but recently that “filtering” caused me to accidentally throw away $1,604.73! I brought in the mail a few days ago.
First, I opened what looked like a check from the outside of the envelope. It was not marked and I was thinking to myself, this could be one of many rebates that I’m waiting for due to my couponing. Well, it turned out it wasn’t. In fact, it was an official looking collections letter from Convergent Outsourcing, Inc. that wants to ‘settle our debt with us’. We supposedly owe them thousands but they will take a mere $408.85 to settle the debt.
Not recognizing any of the companies or names, and knowing we don’t owe anyone money (besides our regular payments) I immediately thought something was fishy. Further, the fact they wanted to ‘settle’ for so low a price without even calling us was enough to make me do some research. I turned to the internet.
I found out that Convergent Outsourcing, Inc. is a SCAMMER company. They are so good at disguising themselves they even have an official looking form. They include a place for you to fill out your CC information or bank account information and smoothly send in the money. If you call them they will immediately ask for your social security number and birth date before agreeing to give you any information.
Imagine what dishonest people like this do with your bank or CC information, your SS number, and your birth date! Identity Theft anyone? I wanted to show you what this letter looked like (blacking out our personal information) so that you can see for yourself and be forewarned in case these scammers try to rip you off.
Some people in the comments below still are nervous about this being a legitimate collections agency. They are a scam company. I ignored it and never had anything reported to my credit (proof: I have an over 800 point credit score). But if you are still uneasy about this I recommend you call the company that they say you owe. DON’T call Convergent as they will insist you give them your personal information…and I’m pretty sure if you do they’ll use it for identity theft. But if you are STILL concerned, call the company they say you owe the debt to and ask them if you have a balance, if they’ve sent your account to a collections agency and make them tell what the name of the collections agency is.
The second thing that happened (on a bit of a happier note) was that we got our mortgage payment/invoice in the mail. Usually, I don’t open them because I pay online each month. But today I happened to open it and I noticed our escrow payment was significantly lower than what we have been paying all last year. So I went online and checked out our escrow balance. Hidden (I had to search for and find the right report) I found out that the mortgage company overcharged us on escrow and had cut and sent us a check.
The check was for $1,334.73. Since I was unaware of it coming and it was disguised as a bill that I always ignore because I pay it online, I accidentally threw it out!! After a few phone calls and long waiting times, I was able to contact them. Thankfully, they canceled that check and sent me a new one. WOW. I had no idea I had accidentally tossed $1,334.73 in the garbage because it looked exactly like our monthly bill.
This reminded me of a time a few years ago. I was at my mom’s house and she gave me her coupon inserts that she saves for me. A few days later I was at the store and needed to use a coupon in that insert. I pulled it out and an envelope dropped to the floor. It looked like it could be junk mail and it was, after all, my mom’s. I didn’t want to drive it to her if it was just junk mail. So I opened it and there was a pretty high value check from one of their renters. I called and told her I had found it hidden in the coupon insert. She was happy to hear about it because she was about to call the renters and ask why they hadn’t made their payment. It’s such a simple concept: looking carefully through the mail, but its something many of us could probably do a little better at.
Recently, we had two $45.00 rebate credit cards coming to our house from a specific camera company. After a few months we called to report never receiving them. They said they sent them but would cancel the cards and resend them. So I waited. A month later I called again and again they said they sent them and would cancel the card and resend. Finally, the third time (about 7 months after the promised rebate), both myself and the company were a little agitated.
So we decided to send them to a different address. I gave them my mom’s address. And low and behold a week later they arrived. When I went to my mom’s to pick them up I was shocked and a bit embarrassed when I recognized them. I had received the rebate cards 3 times but I threw them all away (that is 6 cards at $45.00 each tossed in the trash). Why? Because the company was using a very popular third party bank to send out the rebate cards. They came from a bank who was always sending us credit card offers with those fake credit cards inside of them. So naturally, since I kept thinking they were credit card solicitations, I kept chucking them in the trash.
So what have I learned in the last two months by throwing out over $1,604.73 in the trash? That mail has become tricky and sophisticated. Scammers and even honest marketers pose things to look like checks that try to get you to unwittingly buy their product or give them money. These are usually opened readily. And then the companies that are sending you real money and rebate cards etc. make the mailings look like typical bills or advertisements (I don’t know if it’s because they are hoping their recipients throw them out and they won’t lose that money, or if it is because they don’t want them to be stolen). Either way I decided to pull out my letter opener from now on and open every single piece of mail before tossing it. If in three months I almost threw away $1,604.73, I cringe to think what all of us may be tossing into the receptacle bin. Be very careful about what is in your mail.