12 million Americans use payday loans every year. There are scammers who are well aware of that fact.

Here’s how the scam works. They send a letter or call you up. They tell you that you took out a payday loan years and years ago. They also say that you closed the checking account that you used to take out the loan, and as a result they’re accusing you of wire fraud.

This is of course terrifying.  Many people will pay on the spot. The scammers bank on you not remembering every single payday loan you’ve ever taken out. They often get your information from payday loan forms you fill out on the internet, the type that come from lead generation sites rather than directly from companies that issue payday loans.

Often these scammers claim to be from a law firm, from the Federal Trade Commission, or even from the FBI. 

Fortunately, you probably don’t need a white collar or federal criminal lawyer if you get a call like this. 

Not sure?

Demand proof of the loan, including the original agreement and the cancelled check that you supposedly provided. 99% of the time they will never contact you again because they do not have that kind of proof. 

In many cases even if you did take out that payday loan you’ve either already paid it, or it’s well outside the statute of limitations in the state where you took out the loan. 

Do not pay them anything unless they can produce this proof. Even if you did owe that payday loan that would be tantamount to admitting you owe that money. 

If you’re under investigation for wire fraud there are generally other signs that you’re in trouble.

For example, you might receive a “target letter” that downright tells you that you’re being investigated for wire fraud. You might also receive a subpoena or a visit from law enforcement, in person.

The FTC and the FBI certainly do not collect debts, and if a law firm wants to collect your debt they can either produce the proof or the lawsuit. You can then get a civil attorney of your own.

Obviously if you know you committed some form of wire fraud then you need to be working with a criminal defense attorney from day one. 

See also:

Can a Bank Error Get You Accused of Fraud?

7 Signs You Are Under Federal Criminal Investigation

5 Mistakes to Avoid When You Are Under Federal Investigation