The Department of Consumer Protection is sounding the alarm that there is a new breed of shysters out there. Fraudsters posing as debt collectors trying to bully individuals who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy into handing over more money.---
Consumer Protection was alerted to this when a St. George man who had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy received threatening phone calls from a man with a heavy foreign accent, pretending to be a debt collector and demanding compensation and threatening to file a lawsuit.
“In these economic times, many people are filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy,” Says Francine Giani, Director of the Utah Department of Commerce. “[Bankruptcy] documents are public filings and having someone get a hold of your name and pulling this information would be very easy to do.”
Giani says with so many new people facing bankruptcy they may be unaware that the filing for Chapter 7 should stop all debt collectors from contacting them. “When you have people call [victims] up and tell them they’re from a collection agency and verbally threaten them and indicate they will damage their Social Security number and file a lawsuit against them—then you got folks who have never been in this predicament before and they will get a little nervous about the phone call.”
Giani urges to report suspicious calls to the department of Consumer Protection. The Commerce department can also check collection agencies against a list of agencies registered with the Division of Corporations to make sure they are who they say they are.