Call or Text Today 206-423-9592

Bankruptcy Tips and Advice - Blogs

Scam Alert: Not all attorneys are attorneys.

Posted by Brian Hallaq | Jan 09, 2024 | 0 Comments

Hi Folks,

So, a very nice young man just left my office who was the victim of an online scam.  Collection agencies are not above using aggressive tactics to get you to pay on an old debt, but generally speaking they are actual companies who have actual relationships with your creditors.

Unfortunately, many collectors (and scam artists) know that when someone contacts you claiming to be an attorney, their chances of getting your attention increase exponentially.  Not all of these people are real attorneys.  Some are collection agency employees pretending to be attorneys and some are just scam artists hoping to scare you into giving them your money or personal information.

The very first thing that you need to do when contacted online or by phone from someone claiming to be an attorney is to verify that 1) they are actually an attorney, and 2) they actually represent someone that you owe money to.

To my knowledge, every Bar Association in the United States has a web site that allows you to search by attorney name.  It usually gives you a search bar that allows you to enter the attorney's first and last name.

If an attorney calls you on the phone, or sends you an email, find out what state they are licensed in and go no further in the conversation until you have verified that they are a real attorney.  For scam emails claiming to be an attorney who is collecting on a debt, sometimes the signs are really obvious.  For example, lets say that there is a creditor named “USA Creditor” and the attorney's name is Joan Smith.  If you see that their email address is [email protected], you are probably dealing with a scam.  But to be on the safe side, go to the state Bar association that they claim to be licensed out of, and type in the name of the attorney.

Usually scam artists will use the names of real attorneys so don't be surprised if that name pops up as a legitimate attorney.  The Bar Association web site will provide you with some contact information for that attorney, usually containing a mailing address, a phone number, and sometimes an email address.  See if any of that information corresponds to the email or phone call that you received.

You can then take the next step of calling the phone number, asking for that specific attorney, and ask the following question:  “I am verifying representation of [insert the name of the creditor]”.  Attorneys are under an ethical obligation to say whether or not they represent a client if they are attempting to collect a debt for that client.

If the attorney says “I don't know what you are talking about”, you are dealing with a scam.  Be very careful of solicitations over the phone or via email.  Most legitimate attorneys almost exclusively will deal with you via written mailed correspondence sent to your home, and then see if you call them back.  Collection agencies will direct dial you, and if they claim to be an attorney, just get the correct spelling of their name, what state they are licensed in, and who they represent and tell them that you want to verify representation before continuing any communication.

One final note…if you get an actual attorney who legitimately represents one of your creditors, I would avoid giving them any personal information.  They are going to want to know where you live, where you work, where you bank, etc.  Unless you speak to a Bankruptcy attorney ahead of time, I would be very reluctant to give out any personal information, even if the attorney legitimately represents one of my creditors.  Be careful in your dealing with people who reach out to you.  Some are legitimate, some are scams, but all of them represent interests adverse to you and you need to know your legal rights before engaging with them.

About the Author

Brian Hallaq

My name is Brian and I have been a practicing attorney in Bankruptcy for over 20 years helping thousands of clients.  I have worked for the Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington, as well as several small boutique Bankruptcy law firms handling Bankruptcy cases in Washington State and the State of California.  I have litigated for and against major banks, and I have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients in my career.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

Are creditors calling you? Is there an unexpected job loss? Increasing medical bills? Are you using your credit cards to buy groceries and cannot afford to pay the minimum? We understand the stress that financial hardships can cause to you, and the confusion about choosing the right solution. As experienced Bankruptcy attorneys, Brian and Diem Hallaq can help you regain control over your finances. We help clients who want to file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petitions.

Call or Text

Phone: 206-423-9592
Phone: 206-751-6643