Roadkill Goldfish

Scam artist David Jenkins from Process Mediation called my house.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Image: Wikipedia Commons

The message on my phone this afternoon seemed a bit ominous.  I had to call David Jenkins at Process Mediation within 48 hours because of “possible litigation against me.”

Oh crap.

I’ve had run-ins with several lawyer-happy individuals in my lifetime, and my first thought was a frenzied, “What now?”

So I called.

The phone was answered by the lovely Michelle Morel who asked for my case number. I rambled off the 2014-66**** case number David gave me, and Michelle asked me to confirm the last four digits of my Social Security Number.

Red flag.

“I’m sorry, but what name is the case under?” I asked.

Michelle lost it. She began screaming into the phone, “I asked your name at the beginning at the call!”

Michelle then escalated into shrieking, “I told you! What is wrong with you?”

Oh no she didn’t! This rude and ignorant women did not realize this Puerto Rican chick with a bad case of PMS was not going to play her game.

I asked again about the name. Michelle continued screeching in hopes that I’d cower and provide her with my Social Security Number.

“Michelle, my name is Kim Keller, and I’m a journalist,” I sternly replied.

Michelle got quiet.

“Do you really want to go there with me?” I asked. “Because I’d love to write a story about you…”

Click. The line went dead.

It was a slow afternoon, and I was desperate for entertainment. I also really wanted to bust these people. So I did a little Google research and called back.

This time I got Melanie. She was much nicer. She asked for the case number, and I provided it. I then asked the question that sent Michelle over the edge. Melanie was cool and asked if I was (Name) Keller.

“Yes, I’m Mrs. Keller,” I replied. Technically, I am a Mrs. Keller.

“This is regarding a $1,300 debt you have with Platinum Citibank from 2007,” Melanie replied. “From Pounders Street.”

Oh, heck. I’ll play along. “In Maryland?”

“No, this is from Los Angeles,” Melanie replied.  She then asked me to confirm my Social Security Number with her.

“Melanie, I am Mrs. Keller, but I’m not the one you’re looking for,” I said. “However, I am a journalist and I’d love to do a story about how your company is calling people with fraudulent debt stories and threatening legal action against them. May I speak to one of your supervisors? I’d really like to give y’all a chance to respond before I go to print.”

Melanie asked me to hold for a minute. Twenty minutes later, I was still on hold. I finally hung up.

Ladies, I warned you. I hope you enjoyed the story.


Process Mediation is a scam

Process Mediation is a fraudulent debt collector/identity theft ring, and their tactics are aggressive and intimidating. They will ask you to confirm your social security number and provide them with addresses and other personal information.   If you fail to comply, you’ll get lovely shrieking or threats from one of their professional claim representatives.

There are many complaints on file about this group, and unsurprisingly, there is no website for the company nor does a reverse phone look-up show a company name. The number that pops up on caller ID is 302.248.7032302.248.7032, which is somewhere in Wilmington, Del. Their message tells you to call a 888 number.

Don’t take their bait. If you get a call, please report them to your state’s attorney general office and the Federal Trade Commission. Please warn elderly friends and neighbors about these tactics as well. David, Michelle and Melanie are nasty parasites trying to take advantage of people, and they need to be stopped.


What you need to know about fake debt collectors

Taken from the Federal Trade Commission’s website

The Federal Trade Commission reports that consumers across the country are getting telephone calls from people trying to collect on loans the consumers never received or on loans they did receive but for amounts they do not owe. Others are receiving calls from people seeking to recover on loans consumers received but where the creditors never authorized the callers to collect for them.

So what’s the story?

These scam artists posing as debt collectors. These low-lifes may even have some of your personal information, like a bank account number.

A caller may be a fake debt collector if he:

  • is seeking payment on a debt for a loan you do not recognize;
  • refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number;
  • asks you for personal financial or sensitive information; or
  • exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency.

The FTC advises consumers to do the following if they think a caller may be a fraud:

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If a caller refuses to give you all of this information, do not pay! Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them go away. They may make up another debt to try to get more money from you.
  • Stop speaking with the caller. If you have the caller’s address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you, and keep a copy for your files. By law, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to in writing.
  • Do not give the caller personal financial or other sensitive information. Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number unless you know whom you’re dealing with. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft – charging your existing credit cards, opening new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, writing fraudulent checks, or taking out loans in your name.
  • Contact your creditor. If the debt is legitimate – but you think the collector may not be – contact your creditor about the calls. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.
  • Report the call. Contact the FTC and your state Attorney General’s office with information about suspicious callers. Many states have their own debt collection laws in addition to the federal FDCPA. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.

Please share your cancer story or honor a loved one who’s been there

Just like millions of other cancer patients, my good days make me feel strong enough to beat this thing. Bad days make me feel weak, frightened, angry or sad.

There is power in vulnerability.

I discovered this just a few days ago when I wrote about the 10 things I wish my friends and family knew about cancer.

My cancer.

As it turns out, I was writing about OUR cancer.

More than 30,000 of you read and shared the post during its first few days, and I’ve received dozens of emails and comments via Facebook and the blog about YOUR personal experiences with this awful disease.

Thanks to you, we’ve been able to start a real and HONEST dialogue about how cancer impacts lives. Many of you shared how the piece helped you share your feelings or support a loved one whose body cells have gone horribly rogue.

We’ve shared our vulnerability, and we’ve grown stronger.

Please keep those stories coming because they help EMPOWER so many people. I’d also like to encourage you to share the names of loved ones who are currently experiencing cancer, have kicked malignancy’s butt, or are waiting for us in Heaven.

Use the comment section below.*

I’ll start with some of my personal cancer compadres:

The fighters and victors Carol T. (thyroid), Erin K.  (breast), Julie G. (breast), Helen W. (endometrial), Jim K., Lynn L. (bone), Matt B. (leukemia), Monica T. (breast),  Joaquina S. (colon), Victoria S. (endometrial), and Robert T. (colon).

The ones I’ll see again Uncle Craig (lung), Aunt Josie (stomach), Father Keith, and  many children I knew from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

  *I am a Christian, and many of Roadkill Goldfish’s readers are devout people of faith. Anticipate that someone will be praying for you and your loved ones.

  Out of respect of others’ privacy, please use only the  first name and last initial unless you have permission to use the individual’s full name. 

What your friends with cancer want you to know (but are afraid to say)

Original image: Flickr, Justin Sewell

Original image: Flickr, Justin Sewell

People with cancer are supposed to be heroic.

We fight a disease that terrifies everyone.

We are strong because we endure treatments that can feel worse than the actual malignancies.

We are brave because our lab tests come back with news we don’t want to hear.

 The reality of life with cancer is very different from the image we try to portray.

Our fight is simply a willingness to go through treatment because, frankly, the alternative sucks. Strength? We endure pain and sickness for the chance to feel normal down the road.  Brave? We build up an emotional tolerance and acceptance of things we can’t change. Faith kicks in to take care of the rest.

The truth is that if someone you love has cancer, they probably won’t be completely open about what they’re going through because they’re trying so hard to be strong.

For you.

However, if they could be truly honest and vulnerable, they would tell you:

  1. Don’t wait on me to call you if I need anything.  Please call me every once in a while and set up a date and time to come over. I know you told me to call if I ever needed anything, but it’s weird asking others to spend time with me or help me with stuff I used to be able to do on my own. It makes me feel weak and needy, and I’m also afraid you’ll say “no.”

2. Let me experience real emotions. Even though cancer and its treatments can sometimes influence my outlook, I still have normal moods and feelings in response to life events. If I’m angry or upset, accept that something made me mad and don’t write it off as the disease. I need to experience and express real emotions and not have them minimized or brushed off.

3. Ask me “what’s up” rather than “how do you feel.” Let’s talk about life and what’s been happening rather than focusing on my illness.

4. Forgive me.  There will be times when the illness and its treatment make me “not myself.” I may be forgetful, abrupt or hurtful. None of this is deliberate. Please don’t take it personally, and please forgive me.

5. Just listen. I’m doing my very best to be brave and strong, but I have moments when I need to fall apart. Just listen and don’t offer solutions. A good cry releases a lot of stress and pressure for me.

6. Take pictures of us. I may fuss about a photo, but a snapshot of us can help get me through tough times.  A photo is a reminder that someone thinks I’m important and worth remembering. Don’t let me say “I don’t want you to remember me like this” when treatment leaves me bald or scarred.  This is me, who I am RIGHT NOW. Embrace the now with me.

7. I need a little time alone.  A few points ago I was talking about how much I need to spend time with you, and now I’m telling you to go away.  I love you, but sometimes I need a little solitude. It gives me the chance to take off the brave face I’ve been wearing too long, and the silence can be soothing.

8. My family needs friends. Parenting is hard enough when your body is healthy; it becomes even more challenging when you’re managing a cancer diagnosis with the day-to-day needs of your family. My children, who aren’t mature enough to understand what I’m going through, still need to go to school, do homework, play sports, and hang out with friends. Car-pooling and play dates are sanity-savers for me. Take my kids. Please.

My spouse could also benefit from a little time with friends. Grab lunch or play a round of golf together. I take comfort in knowing you care about the people I love.

9. I want you to reduce your cancer risk. I don’t want you to go through this. While some cancers strike out of the blue, many can be prevented with just a few lifestyle changes – stop smoking, lose extra weight, protect your skin from sun damage, and watch what you eat. Please go see a doctor for regular check-ups and demand follow-up whenever pain, bleeding or unusual lumps show up. Many people can live long and fulfilling lives if this disease is discovered in its early stages. I want you to have a long and fulfilling life.

10. Take nothing for granted. Enjoy the life you have right now. Take time to jump in puddles, hug the kids, and feel the wind on your face. Marvel at this amazing world God created, and thank Him for bringing us together.

While we may not be thankful for my cancer, we need to be grateful for the physicians and treatments that give me the chance to fight this thing. And if there ever comes a time when the treatments no longer work, please know that I will always be grateful for having lived my life with you in it. I hope you feel the same about me.

About the author
Kim Helminski Keller is a Dallas-based mom, wife, teacher and journalist. She is currently receiving treatment for thyroid cancer. You can reach her via this site’s contact page.

Thanks to reader shares, this post quickly earned the #2 spot on Roadkill Goldfish’s Most Popular Posts. (The number one spot is held by “Dear Daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you” with 4 million views.)
Check out the other Roadkill Goldfish items that caused Internet buzz.

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