We have recently been made aware of a new phone scam targeting North Carolina citizens. 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.

Law firms can help alert the public to this scam. Here are some steps you can take to help:

  1. Alert your family and friends. Anyone could be a victim.
  2. Make your staff aware of the issue so they can address phone calls should your firm receive them.
  3. If your firm has been scammed, consider posting a notice on your website. Sample text listed below:

This 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.

Contact the North Carolina Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Agency by calling 877-566-7226 or visiting www.ncdoj.gov/Consumer.aspx.

Report telemarketing fraud to the FBI. You can contact your local agency or complete their online tips form at https://tips.fbi.gov/.