by Adam Mack, JD
Be aware that scammers are targeting bankruptcy filers. The scammers are accessing the bankruptcy information which is filed with the bankruptcy court, publicly accessible through www.pacer.gov for a small per page cost. The scammers use these documents to identify the name and phone number of the law firm that filed the case. Then, scammers use software to mask their phone number as the phone number of the law firm, so that when the person answering the phone looks at his or her caller ID it appears to be a call from his or her attorney’s office. The scammer then identifies him or herself as the attorney or someone on the attorney’s staff. Next, the scammer tells the filer that one of the debts listed in his or her bankruptcy has been determined to be non- dischargeable and that he or she must pay the debt immediately or her or she could be held in contempt or be arrested. The scammer then proceeds to collect the money over the phone, claiming he or she is going to forward the payment to the creditor.
Fortunately, cursory research suggests that there are no known cases of this scam in Kansas just yet. However, the scam has drawn enough attention in other states that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of West Virginia and the Attorney General for the State of Vermont have issued press releases notifying the public of the problem. The information necessary to carry out the scam can be accessed from any internet connection and the phone call can be placed from any location. As such, residents of Kansas who have filed bankruptcy are potentially just as susceptible to this scam as anyone.
So, how do you not get caught in this scam? First of all, it is unlikely that the first time your attorney tells you that you need to pay a debt that he or she will demand you pay it over the phone immediately. That is certainly a red flag. Secondly, hang up the phone and call the attorney’s office back and ask him or her to confirm that the call came from the attorney’s office.
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