Fake Debt Collectors 'Moreno And Woods' Strike Again

Another reader has contacted us to say that Moreno and Woods, the fake collection agency that likes to threaten and intimidate people into paying huge bills for collections they don’t owe, “called my house last night and left a threatening message on my phone for my son.” Luckily for Linda, she’s got a recording of their threat now.

They left a case number to refer to when we call back. My son and his wife are separated and he and his son live with us right now. I called the number this morning to see what this was about, and they told me that he owed a bill from 2000 to JC Penny’s for $2,750.00 and he could ask JC Penny’s if they would take a “hardship settlement” now which would be for $1,500.00 payable in 2 payments in the form of post dated checks thru no later than 3/15/09.

He actually faxed over a so called letter with this information on it saying we had to respond no later than 2/6/09. He was very nice, the guy I talk to.

How can these people keep getting away with this kind of crap? It really upset me this morning, as my husband has cancer and I’m sitting here at work trying figure out how my son can pay this right now or we can help him… The phone message was really threatening, saying he would be served and it would be to his best interest to pay up or they would put a levy on his bank account.

[Update: I edited the email but inadvertently removed some relevant info. Linda says her son does not owe any money to JC Penney. She was unclear to me about whether or not they ever owed an amount that went to collections, but she indicated her son and his wife have paid off their debts and do not currently owe anything.]

As you probably learned from the comments in our post last May, the easiest solution is to ask for written proof of the debt, which should shut them up. But since you actually have proof of the attempt at fraud, you could also contact an attorney—you probably have what you need for an easy lawsuit. At any rate, don’t erase that message—find a way to record it onto another medium and save it for posterity.

But even if you decide not to pursue a lawsuit, you should contact your Attorney General’s office and file a complaint. And when they call back, insist that any further communication come through the mail and give them formal notice not to call you ever again.

Here’s some good advice that reader joellevand left in the comments on the earlier post:

If someone has a judgment against you, they were required to notify you, in writing, and have you personally served (which can be registered mail in some states, btw, and in some states by sheriff) with the complaint against you. While failure to reply can lead to a default or summary judgment in your state (check statutes, court rules, etc.) you have the right to know what you are being sued for and the right to respond. Companies cannot just get a judgment against you (in most states, AFAIK) without your knowledge! Asking details such as “in what county” and “what docket number” are good, but better yet, ask

Date in which it was filed.
Method it was served upon you.
Date the judgment was entered.
Name of the judge who entered the judgment.

If they then backpedal with the “oh, we’re about to file it” then you can simply reply, “Well, when I am served with the copy of the complaint, then you can discuss the case with my attorney, but I have nothing more to say until I have reviewed the court complaint with my attorney.” That should shut them the hell up as well.

Oh, and if they *do* have a judgment against you and you were never notified, you can and probably should demand proof of service and a transcript of the court proceedings, as now they’ve added perjury to their fraud charges!