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Iowa Attorney General
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November 6, 2015

Bankruptcy Filers Targeted in National Scam

Callers who pose as attorneys or debt collectors use personal information from court documents to collect fake debts

(DES MOINES, Iowa) Iowans who have filed or plan to file for bankruptcy should be aware of a national telephone scam by criminals posing as attorneys or debt collectors.

The scam, which has emerged in other states, involves callers who claim they are the person’s bankruptcy attorney or are somehow associated with the attorney. The caller instructs the recipient of the call to wire money or provide funds through a prepaid money card to satisfy a debt.

Criminals behind the scam manipulate caller ID displays, a technique called spoofing, to make the source of the calls appear legitimate. The calls often occur outside of normal business hours to make it more difficult for the recipients to contact their legal counsel.

“Under no circumstances would a bankruptcy attorney or staff member telephone a client and ask for a wire transfer immediately to satisfy a debt. Nor would the bankruptcy attorney and staff ever threaten arrest if a debt isn’t paid,” according to a statement issued by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

“A bankruptcy attorney will not call and demand you act right now or else,” Attorney General Tom Miller said, noting that it’s against the law to threaten arrest to collect a debt. “Don’t give out personal or financial information to someone who calls you out of the blue--just hang up the phone.”

Recipients of such a call should contact their bankruptcy attorney using a phone number listed on documents related to their bankruptcy case, the number listed in a phone book, or number that appears on the attorney’s known website, Miller added.

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