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Scam Alert for NC Citizens Affecting NC Law Firms

June 2016

We have been warned of a new scam affecting citizens of North Carolina. In this new scam, the caller purports to represent a law firm collecting a debt. The caller threatens the citizen with arrest if the debt isn’t paid via credit card during the phone call. The phone call has been reported to go like this:

“I am with {law firm} calling to collect a debt. If you do not give me a credit card number and pay this immediately, the sheriff is standing by to come to your house and arrest you.”

Victims of these scams are chosen at random. The scammers are hoping to scare vulnerable people into thinking they must provide credit card information to avoid going to jail. Unfortunately, there is nothing law firms can do to prevent scammers from spoofing their phone number.

Lawyers Mutual suggests adding a disclaimer to law firm websites and to advise staff of this new threat so that a plan can be created should you receive citizen complaints. The disclaimer language below may be helpful for lawyers and staff to have on hand so that scam victims can report this crime.

Sample disclaimer language might include:

{Our Firm} DOES NOT collect debt via phone call. If you receive a phone call to collect debt purporting to be from this law firm, please do not provide personal or financial information to the caller. If possible, write down the name of the law office that appeared on the caller ID and hang up. Please call the State Bar Attorney Client Assistance Program at 919-828-4620 to describe what happened. You may contact the North Carolina Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Agency by calling 877-566-7226 or visiting www.ncdoj.gov/Consumer.aspx. You can also report telemarketing fraud to the FBI. You can contact your local agency or complete their online tips form at https://tips.fbi.gov/.