Don't Fall For It: A Quick Guide to Avoiding Scams

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office recently issued a news release warning of a scam targeting people who have filed a bankruptcy. The scammers will call and pretend to be someone from the attorney’s office handling the bankruptcy, and often use technology to affect the caller ID information to the office number.  The scammers tell the victims to immediately wire money to pay a debt. They often call outside of business hours so the victim cannot immediately contact the attorney’s office to verify.

Obviously, I recommend that if you or someone you know gets such a call, do not wire any money to anyone. Try instead the following things:

  1. Get names, addresses, phone number or any other identifying information you can.
  2. Do not give any account information (like debit card numbers, bank account numbers, social security numbers).
  3. Hang up the phone.
  4. Call your attorney, just to be sure.
  5. Then call your local Attorney General office and report the attempt.

A debtor in bankruptcy will almost never have any payment that cannot wait until the next day or two to receive money. The nature of a bankruptcy protects you, at least initially, from collection pressures, including phone calls, letters, threats of suit or garnishment, etc.  This is one of the largest benefits of filing a bankruptcy, and it is one that every debtor should enjoy the full breadth of.

The financial stresses that lead to a bankruptcy often leave people in a vulnerable state, and I often receive calls from clients who receive solicitation in the mail for services or credit, and mistakenly believe (at least initially) that the solicitation is “official” and then call me asking for further advice. The typical consumer debtor shouldn’t be an expert on what is and isn’t official, and calling their lawyer is the right response when faced with a confusing piece of mail or information.

The National Council on Aging has resources for people to use to avoid scams, as the elderly can be the type of vulnerable population that scammers target. Their advice for telemarketing scams:

  1. Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company.

  2. Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.

  3. Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.

  4. Always take your time in making a decision.

  5. If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

In the end, keep in mind that your bankruptcy attorney is your zealous advocate, and that at no point should they place you in a position that a scammer would.