12/21/2015 9:46:37 AM
SAINT PAUL – Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is urging consumers, in Minnesota and nationwide, to be on guard against fake debt collectors who send threatening communications and claim to be with a prominent Minnesota law firm.
The fraudulent communications—including phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and even Facebook postings—appear to come from Jeff Anderson & Associates PA, a Minnesota-based law firm that is well known nationally for representing victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Some of the communications insist that the recipient has a debt that must be paid immediately. Others say the recipient is the subject of a lawsuit related to financial fraud.
In fact, there is no debt or lawsuit, and the law firm has nothing to do with these communications.
The fraudulent letters look official, including the real law firm’s logo. However, the communications show a nonexistent address in Washington, DC, and urge the recipient to call a phone number with a 202 (Washington, DC) area code. The number is likely “spoofed,” meaning the actual number is different.
The Minnesota Commerce Department and other agencies are currently working to identify and track down the individuals responsible for the communications.
“Phantom” debt collection scams come in a number of variations, but they typically resort to threats and intimidation to pressure the consumer to send money immediately.
Earlier this fall, Commerce Department received complaints about another fake debt collection scam involving phone calls and emails that appeared to be from someone affiliated with Advance America Cash Advance or Cash Advance Inc. Although this is a real company that offers short-term consumer loans, it certified that it was not making the calls or sending the emails.
Rothman offered several tips to help Minnesotans protect themselves from being victimized by fake debt collectors: