CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers to guard their personal information from scammers who call pretending to be federal agents attempting to collect a debt.
Much like other unsolicited strong-arm collection call scams, the caller tells the consumer he or she has an outstanding debt which must be paid immediately. However, in this case, the scammer claims to be an FBI agent and tells the consumer that the FBI has been monitoring their online activities.
“These scammers will use the name of the FBI to give themselves an air of authority and make outrageous cash demands to the consumer,” Morrisey said in a statement. “When the consumer starts to question the debt or the amount, the scammer often will threaten legal action or jail, which can be especially troubling if the scammer has already shown they have your personal information.”
Some things to keep in mind if you receive one of these unsolicited debt collection calls:
* Caller ID can be easily spoofed. Just because the name on your Caller ID display reads “FBI” or “Federal Bureau of Investigation” does not mean the call is coming from the FBI.
* Wire transfers and pre-paid debit card transactions cannot be tracked down once sent. If a caller asks for you to pay an outstanding debt via wire transfer or pre-paid debit card, it’s almost a sure sign of a scam.
* Debt collection agents, by law, are required to provide written documentation of the debt, including its amount, the creditor and your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the caller is unwilling to provide this information, hang up.
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft or your credit cards have been breached, call local law enforcement, as well as the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division or the Federal Trade Commission or go online to www.ftc.gov/idtheft.