JOPLIN, MO.--- Identity thieves are taking a new approach to try and get their hands on your money. Investigators are seeing a growing number of cases involving what's called "phantom debt." You get a call from someone saying they are collecting money that you already owe. If you don't pay - they threaten to take action in 24 to 48 hours, steps likes arrest, having wages garnished or closing a bank account. In some cases, the caller claims you have an unpaid utility bill - and that you'll be disconnected if you don't take care of the debt.
"Even if they claim to be legitimate, or with your credit card, or with your bank, always do some checking before you take that step and give out that information," said Lt. Brian Lewis, Joplin Police Department.
Authorities say you need to verify that the debt is legitimate. Even then - you should handle any financial transaction through an established phone number.
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