Fake Law Firm Posing as a Debt Collector
Consumers filing for bankruptcy continue to be targeted by scammers looking to make a quick buck. I have previously reported on this activity here in 2012 and since then it has continued to be a problem as a new scam includes a fake law firm posing as a debt collector.
Usually I learn about these scams from former clients or potential clients who tell me they are being harassed by a debt collector for a debt they have never heard of or should have been discharged in their prior bankruptcy filing. Just the other day a client told me the law firm of Harrington & Cobb using the phone number 866-625-7088 was attempting to collect on a debt that the debtor had never heard of. To make matters worse, this client had received a chapter 7 discharge last month in a no asset case and couldn’t possibly owe this firm money. I immediately thought it was a scam and the other thought was that maybe they didn’t get notice of the bankruptcy discharge.
I usually start my quick investigation as to the authenticity of one of these places by first conducting an internet search of the name of the alleged debt collector and then secondly conducting an internet search of the telephone number from which the collection call originated or that was given to my client. As you can see here, this law firm, Harrington & Cobb is fake! Shocking I know, but scammers are constantly looking for way to game the system. The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys have released this public service announcement to consumers as well. In my experience, often times the debts that are trying to be collected upon revolve around pay day loans that debtors may or may not have taken out at some point. Also consumers should be advised of another scam going around involving the IRS calling consumers and telling them that they owe back taxes which is even more concerning since the IRS will never call you. Most likely you will just get an unfriendly letter in the mail and then your future tax refund intercepted.
You should be advised that under no circumstances can debt collectors threaten to arrest you and all debt collectors must provide you with disclosures under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Further if a debtor collector tells you to wire them money immediately or go to a pawn shop to sell your possessions to get money, you know something fishy is going on. Always request a settlement letter prior to sending a debt collector money so you can keep track of all of your debts and hold them accountable later on if there are any problems with credit reporting later on. Further if you suspect a debt collector is not legit, be sure to follow my rules of thumb above by conducting an internet search to learn more about the company attempting to collect a debt from you.
If you think you have been targeted by scammers you should contact your states attorney general as well as report the scam to the FBI so that the parties responsible can be held accountable.