AG Warns That Phone Scammers Continue Clever Cons

July 4, 2014

Attorney General Jim Hood today is reissuing a reminder about the clever scams constantly being executed by con-artists.

One current scam, a version of what is known as the “emergency scam” has circulated and is falsely using the name of a local law firm, Hawkins/Gibson.  The law firm reported the calls they have been receiving to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office out of concern for the victims—all of whom appear to have applied for payday loans. Keep in mind the caller may use the name of any other law firm, agency or business.

How the Scam Works

You receive a phone call from a scammer representing themselves as a collection agency for Hawkins/Gibson Law Firm. The scammer then says you owe money to the law firm and they are collecting the money for Hawkins/Gibson. They will then attempt to scare you into sending the money by saying “if you do not send this money, you will be arrested”. Recipients of these phone calls have stated that the scammer will then have someone get on the phone proclaiming to be a police officer, who verifies the threat. The criminal always attempts to use intimidation in the situation to force the victim to respond quickly.

How to Avoid This Scam

  • Be suspicious of anyone who is vague in identifying themselves on the phone. Be suspicious of anyone who calls or emails unexpectedly and wants you to wire money–especially out of the country. If you think this might be a legitimate phone call, then contact the agency directly. Avoid giving any personal information over the phone.
  • It comes in different forms but there is always some “act now or something terrible will happen” pitch.  The scam, in its traditional form is known as the “emergency scam” because the criminal always tries to use the scare of an emergency situation to force the victim to respond quickly.
  • One clever way con-artists and crooks are getting folks to answer the phone is to spoof the actual number they are calling so that the person answering the phone sees their own number show up on caller id.  Many people will answer the phone out of curiosity only to get scammed or realize the scam attempt.

“Everyone should look with suspicion at  any unsolicited emails or phone calls that seek to play on your emotions and your pocketbook,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Always protect your personal information.”

Some key tips to remember:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited e-mails.
  • Do not answer the phone for a number you do not recognize or that shows up as your own.
  • If you do answer, then hang up the minute you realize it is a scam.
  • Do not click on any attachments associated with such emails, as they may contain viruses or malware.
  • Educate yourself and your family on how the scam works.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who is vague in identifying themselves on the phone.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly and wants you to wire money–especially out of the country.
  • NEVER wire or send money in any form to persons or organizations you do not know
  • Always protect your PII (Personally Identifiable Information).   Giving it out could cause you to become a victim of identity theft.

More information on this scam, and others like it, can be found online at www.agjimhood.com.

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