Since the recession hit, debt scams have proliferated. Jobs lost leads to people defaulting on loans, which in turn leads to more people trying to con debtors out of what little money they have left. Some of these scams are more sophisticated than others. The most common ones written about by bankruptcy lawyers are debt settlement scams in which a firm claims it can negotiate down your debt even though it does nothing to do so. Other scams are more straightforward, such as a basic telephone scam that the banking industry refers to as “vishing.”
Take for instance one set up by “Citi Customer First,” which has nothing to do with Citigroup. The scammers use an autodialer to call random people’s numbers. Its number has been identified as (888) 472-4945. The auto-dialer leaves automated messages telling the target that he or she owes a large debt to Citi, and then it gives some options about repaying the debt in whole or in part. Anyone who calls is directed to provide their Social Security numbers and credit card information. The goal is to convince enough worried debtors to provide private financial information to make the endeavor worthwhile.
Here are a few steps to distinguishing between telephone debt scams and relevant communications from your bank.
(1) Your bank won’t call you to ask you for your financial information, so don’t give it to anyone who calls and asks.
(2) Know how much debt you owe and to what creditors. You can find this out by obtaining a free credit report from one of the three credit reporting bureaus.
(3) Scammers will usually not know how much money you actually owe on a specific debt and will instead refer to it vaguely. Actual debt collectors will know about the specific debts you owe.
(4) Thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are forbidden from using autodiallers to contact you, and they can’t leave automated messages either. Scammers, obviously, don’t care about adhering to laws like the FDCPA.
(5) Banks don’t immediately sell your debts to collectors. They will send you mail first, identifying itself as the owner of your debt and the amount you owe. It will not ask for private information beyond that.
High debts and lost incomes are often enough to push people into bankruptcy, but giving money to a con artist only worsens the situation. If your debt situation has gone from bad to worse, and if you’ve given money to someone you didn’t actually owe money to under fraudulent circumstances, an experienced Las Vegas bankruptcy lawyer can help you sort the situation out.
For more questions about bankruptcy in Las Vegas, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation. Call us at 1-702-880-5554 to set up your free consultation.