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HELPS is a nonprofit law firm and 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We serve senior citizens and disabled persons struggling with debt.

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Scam Collection Agencies

Scam Artists Target Seniors Pretending To Be Legitimate Debt Collection Agencies

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced that nearly 17 percent of senior citizens reported they had been the victim of financial exploitation. The Bureau explained, “Elder financial exploitation has been called the crime of the 21st century….Older people are attractive targets….”

Scam artists have recently begun to target senior citizens claiming they are legitimate collectors. They can find information about you and your debts from different sources to buttress their scam. It is important that senior citizens are made aware of these scammers’ tactics so they can identify and avoid them.

Here is a text of a recent phone message to a senior: I’m contacting you…about a case being filed in court against you. We will be heading out to your residence… within the next couple of hours. I will give you this information one final time before we head out. Our phone number is 888-327- xxxx When calling in reference your case number ATX 405. You are being legally notified for the final time…”

The senior who received this call was worried and frightened. I immediately explained to her this scammer’s ploy. They want you to call so they can intimidate you into sending money. I also told her something that many seniors don’t know, that their social security and retirement income is protected by federal law and can’t be taken from senior. This fact doesn’t stop these scammers from trying to take advantage of uninformed seniors.

Here is sample of an email from a debt scammer to a senior: “You are going to be legally prosecuted in the Court House. Your SSN is put on hold by US Federal Government… I have your personal details in the affidavit …. legal procedures… hampering your credit ratings. Just reply back…you can settle it outside the courthouse with the settlement amount… otherwise there are penalty and judge fees …you will end up in a legal mess … this is your final reminder,… and last opportunity to make payment. Otherwise…we shall immediately commence legal actions against you… for all attorney fees and court costs … Send Your Payment as Soon as Possible.”

What are the clues that identify a call or email from a scammer? Often, they don’t identify themselves. And almost always there is a threat of a lawsuit. Intimidating legal words are used like “litigation,” “one final time,” “legally notified,” “final warning,” “sheriffs department” “court house,” “federal government, “affidavit,” “legal procedures,” “final reminder,” “48 hours,” “immediately commence,” “credit," etc.

These words are designed to get the senior to pick up the phone and call them. I would tell any senior who received such a call to hang up immediately. If you are able, block the number. Never answer an email. There are laws that govern debt collectors. These are illegal tactics used by criminal collectors. These scammers operate from overseas, or hide themselves in other ways, so they can never be sued for breaking laws.

Another way to identify a scammed is to google their phone number or the name of their company and the words “ripoff” or “scam.” There will often be multiple results that identify the phone number or company as being from a scammer.

Seniors generally are courteous, and don’t want to be rude. However you would never pet a rattlesnake. Never talk to them or email them. Ignore them completely and they will eventually go away. There are other commons scams that target the elderly. These include claims you have won a sweepstake, your grandchild is in jail or overseas and in need of money.

Knowledge that their income is protected gives seniors power. Knowing how to identify these scams can give a senior confidence and a peace of mind. If any seniors is still concerned they can always call HELPS Nonprofit Law Firm toll free at 855 435 7787 to help confirm a scam communication. It is part of our mission to help identify these scammers for seniors. We offer this help at no cost.

Scammers are rattlesnakes. You want nothing to do with them. Ignore them, give them a wide berth. Be aware of the “rattle” or key phrases and words that identify them as to what they are. Be informed. Knowledge is power.

Learn More About Other Issues and What HELPS Can Do For You.

Peace of Mind
These HELPS clients were dealing with harassing debt collectors and anxiety over old Debt. HELPS provided a solution to their financial worries.