• WARNING: Some fake debt collectors may know a lot about you

    Updated:

    Catie Brown used to have Century Link for phone and internet.

    She says she owed the company money -- $500 -- but didn't know it at the time.

    Then, she told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke, someone called her out of the blue, claiming to be a debt collector and threatening her. 

    [ALSO READ: Prosecutors: Charlotte-based debt collection agency scammed people out of millions]

    "I owed a bill for $1,200 to Century Link, and I had 24 hours to pay it or I would be hit with a $7,000 penalty," she said.

    She says she hung up and called Century Link. 

    "I went through like three hours of research and phone calls to find out for sure what was going on," she told Stoogenke. "And it was well worth it." 

    She says the company told her about the $500 debt, but said it never turned it over to collections. She says the company told her it was a scam.

    [ALSO READ: Make calls stop! FCC looks at robocall rules to stop scams]

    Brown isn't sure how the scammer knew she owed money to Century Link.  She was applying for health care online. So, she was typing in her personal information on a lot of sites. Maybe one was fishy.

    She messaged Stoogenke on Facebook, so he could warn others. 

    "If I wouldn't have taken those extra steps, they would have gotten me for that money," she said.  "What about the single mom that gets the phone call and it just sends her into a panic?  What about the older lady that gets a phone call and she gives them the money because she doesn't know any better?" 

    If someone claiming to be a debt collector calls you, hang up and confirm the debt with the company directly. 

    Also, "test" the caller. Ask him or her for the last four digits of your Social Security number.  A legitimate debt collector will not give you that information over the phone. If he or she does, you'll know it's a scammer.  Make sure you don't give that person your Social Security number or even the last four digits.

    Statement sent to Action 9 from CenturyLink spokesperson: 

    “It is so important for everyone to be aware of these phishing attacks and at CenturyLink, we work hard to protect our customers from phishing attacks. We encourage our customers to contact us at 877-348-9005 with any questions or concerns if they feel like suspicious activity is underway. Remember, that most companies would  never contact customers via email, text or phone to ask for bank account information, social security numbers or to verify your credit card number. These are all important red flags that should cause customers to stop the conversation and report the issue by calling us at 877-348-9005 or by forwarding a suspicious email to abuse@centurylinkservices.net.”

    Next Up: