Filing Bankruptcy, Avoiding a Scam

Guest post by Paul Kuzmickas.

The latest bankruptcy scam targets bankruptcy filers and those with significant debt. In the last few weeks, bankruptcy filers have been receiving phone calls from con artists disguised as bankruptcy attorneys, using software to look like a law firm on caller ID. These con artists are asking for immediate payment of outstanding debts and threatening to arrest those who do not comply.

Some scammers may seem believable, but it is always best to make sure you know who you are talking to before handing over sensitive information.

Look for these three warning signs that you might be talking to a scammer:

Asking for personal information. Giving credit card or account information over the phone is never a good idea. Be wary of anyone who asks for personal information, especially over the phone. The National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center suggests agreeing with your lawyer on which modes of communication you will use, and for what. That way, if someone who seems to be from your lawyer’s firm asks you for something in a way you didn’t agree on, you can be sure it is a scam.

After-hours phone calls. Perhaps one of the greatest red flags that you are talking to a scammer is when they called you after business and are demanding payment. The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says that con artists primarily seek out their targets in the evenings when it is more difficult to get in touch with your attorney to confirm your suspicions that you are being scammed.

Threats of arrest. A legitimate bankruptcy lawyer will never threaten to have you arrested for an outstanding debt—or even ask for immediate payment over the phone. This is a clear sign of a scam! If you receive such a threat, end the conversation and contact your lawyer right away.

While the likelihood of falling victim to a bankruptcy scam is relatively low, the reality is con artists are using technology to make themselves more convincing. Take time to get to know your bankruptcy lawyer, ask questions, and learn how to protect yourself from scammers.

And if you think you have been contacted by a scammer, don’t hesitate to ask your lawyer about your suspicions.

attorney_paul_s_kuzmickasPaul Kuzmickas is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer who writes a bankruptcy law blog for Cleveland consumers.