Arrest Warrant Scams
Did you receive a phone call or email from someone claiming to be a Sherriff, policeman, a lawyer or bounty hunter, saying they had a warrant for your arrest? The callers, manipulating caller ID to make the number appear to come from the local sheriff's office or jail, tell potential victims they have an outstanding warrant for an unpaid debt, missed jury duty or some minor infraction and that a fine is due. The callers then convince people to make the payments by wiring it through Western Union MoneyGram or buying a prepaid credit card (like Green Dot) and registering it online.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is warning consumers to be on the alert for scam artists posing as police. There are variations of this scam in which the caller tells the victim that there are outstanding warrants for the victim's arrest. The caller claims that the basis of the warrants is non-payment of the underlying loan and/or hacking. If it's the latter, the caller tells the victim that he or she is wanted for hacking into a business' computer system to steal customer information. The caller will then demand payment via debit/credit card; in other cases, the caller further instructs victims to obtain a prepaid card to cover the payment.
Look for these signs that a caller may be a Fake Arrest Warrant / fake debt collector if he:
- claims that there is a warrant for your arrest. Police do not call first. If you really are in trouble with the law, you will know it. The police will knock on your door or you will receive a certified piece of mail informing you of any legal action that's being taken against you. If you do owe a fine, you will not get a 15 -minute notice to pay it over the phone.
- is seeking payment on a debt for a loan you do not recognize;
- refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number;
- asks you for personal financial or sensitive information; or
- exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying, such as threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency.
What to do:
If you are contacted by someone who is claims there is a warrant for your arrest or is claiming to collect a debt that you do not owe, you should:
- Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number.
- Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice."
- Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger;
- If you gave out information about your bank accounts or credit cards, contact your bank(s) and credit card companies;
- Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file;
- If you have received a legitimate loan and want to verify that you do not have any outstanding obligation, contact the loan company directly;
- File a complaint at www.IC3.gov.
- The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If a caller refuses to give you all of this information, do not pay! Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them go away. They usually make up another debt to try to get more money from you.
Stop speaking with the caller.
If you have the caller's address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you, and keep a copy for your files. By law, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to in writing.
Do not give the caller personal financial or other sensitive information.
Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information like your:
- date of birth,
- bank account,
- credit card, or
- Social Security number
unless you know whom you're dealing with. Scam artists, like fake debt collectors, can use your information to commit identity theft ' charging your existing credit cards, opening new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, writing fraudulent checks, or taking out loans in your name.
If You Really Do Owe the Debt, Contact your creditor.
If the debt is legitimate ' but you think the collector may not be ' contact your creditor about the calls. Sometimes fake collectors obtain information about real debts. Share the information you have about the suspicious calls and find out who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.
Report the call. Contact the FTC and your state Attorney General's office with information about suspicious callers. Many states have their own debt collection laws in addition to the federal FDCPA. Your Attorney General's office can help you determine your rights under your state's law.
DON'T pay unknown debts, without verification!
First, we are unaware of any legitimate debt collectors contacting people by email (how would they even know an email address associated with a debt?) And legitimate debt collectors must, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, send a letter within 5 days of contacting you, stating what the debt is, why it's owed and how much they believe you owe. The recipient then has 30 days to respond by either contesting it in writing or making payment arrangements.
Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 4:39 PM
--------------------- COMMENTS -----------------------------
I am receiving several calls and messages from 202-239-2003. They are stating that they work for the Federal District Attorney and that I am being sued for searching the internet and that they have my social security number and email address that they are watching. They claim to be Attorney Michael Shaw and that the federal government is coming to arrest me and may God be with me if I don't obtain an attorney.
This is very disturbing and they will not stop calling. What they are doing is a federal offense. What can I do to get them to stop calling me and leaving threatening messages? Also, they have my personal information. What do I do
Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 4:23 PM
--------------------- COMMENTS -----------------------------
A person from Lewiston pa phone number 717-447-7840 they had my social security number I told them I couldn't give out this info over the phone they said they were from some federal place and they were going to have the state police come and arrest me because I owed some loan place money that I never owed to I asked for their phone number he rattle it off so fast I couldn't understand I told him I really didn't think a federal place would be calling me on the phone and he started yelling at me I hung up and tried calling back and got an answering machine.
Learn more about Debt Collection and Arrest Warrant rights and laws
- See this page for what to do, step by step
- What may a debt collector NOT say or do?
- You need to know your rights, which are primarily spelled out in the Fair Arrest Warrant Act. Click on the link to read it! It is not too look and is not hard to read!
- You can file a compliant against a debt collector with the FTC - Use this form to submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection about a particular company or organization..
- You can fight back with a lawsuit - First, see the answer to this question, then see Handel on the Law to find a recommended lawyer near you. You may also be able to file a lawsuit in small claims court yourself.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- FBI - New Twists to Telephone Collection Scam Related to Delinquent Payday Loans
- WGAL News 8 - Scammers claim warrant is out for your arrest, Callers pretend to be from sheriff's office
- USA Today - Scam: Caller threatens arrest if you don't pay