Scammers Pose as MN Law Firm to Collect Fake Debts

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Scammers Pose as MN Law Firm to Collect Fake Debts

Technology plays a big role in our hyper-connected multimedia world these days. But along with incredible breakthroughs have come a proliferation of new scams, increasingly perpetrated by global conmen and women. These types of scams run the gamut from those committed online using phishing, hacking, viruses, worms, ransomware and more, all the way to more traditional old school scamming methods via phone and letter.
No matter the method, the goal is the same, to part you and your money. One of the latest, Phantom Debt Collection uses a combination of phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and even Facebook postings to scam its victims.
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner, Mike Rothman is urging Minnesota consumers to be on guard against these fake debt collectors, who claim to be with prominent Minnesota law firms and send threatening communications to targets in order to obtain their money.

Phantom Debt Collection
The way phantom debt collection scams work is the scammers send fraudulent letters that look legitimate, even using official looking stationary bearing the law firm’s logo. However, communications often show nonexistent addresses in Washington, DC, and urge recipients to call a phone number with a 202 (Washington, DC) area code. Authorities believe the number is likely “spoofed,” meaning the actual number is different.
Phantom debt collection scams come in numerous variations, but they typically resort to intimidation in order to pressure consumers to send money immediately. These fake communications, which include phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and even social media messages, have only been made in the name of one Minnesota-based law firm thus far.
These communications often insist the recipient has a debt that must be paid immediately and sometimes even threaten a lawsuit for financial fraud but there is in fact, no debt or lawsuit pending and the law firms being named have nothing to do with these communications or their threats.

Currently, the Minnesota Commerce Department and other agencies are working hard to track down and identify the scammers responsible for this elaborate fear-based hoax.

Be suspicious of anyone who asks you to wire money or load a
rechargeable money card as a way to pay a debt.
There is no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to send money that way.
Ask the caller for his or her name, company, street address and phone number.
If the caller refuses, the call is not legitimate.
Research and verify any contact information given to you. For example, if you are told to go to a specific website, it could be fake. Instead of going directly to the website, search for it on Google and see if it is legitimate.
Do not reply to emails, texts or Facebook postings from debt collectors. A legitimate debt collection business would not contact you in that manner.
Ask for written proof of the debt, including a written “validation notice” required by federal law. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and information about the consumer’s rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Do not provide or confirm any Social Security, bank, credit card or other personal information. Fake debt collectors are also in the identity theft business.

Be suspicious of anyone who asks you to wire money or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay a debt. There is no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to send money that way.
Ask the caller for his or her name, company, street address and phone number. If the caller refuses, the call is not legitimate.
Research and verify any contact information given to you. For example, if you are told to go to a specific website, it could be fake. Instead of going directly to the website, search for it on Google and see if it is legitimate.
Do not reply to emails, texts or Facebook postings from debt collectors. A legitimate debt collection business would not contact you in that manner.
Ask for written proof of the debt, including a written “validation notice” required by federal law. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor and information about the consumer’s rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Do not provide or confirm any Social Security, bank, credit card or other personal information. Fake debt collectors are also in the identity theft business.

You should also contact the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at: consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota) so they can track these criminals and keep Minnesotans informed.
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