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BERGEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE ISSUES PUBLIC ADVISORY REGARDING PHONE SCAM INVOLVING PHANTOM DEBT SCAMS

March 15,2018
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Hackensack NJ, The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (“BCPO”) is issuing this advisory to inform the public about phantom debt scams. A phantom debt scam involves criminals impersonating law firms, judges, court officials, or debt collectors who send out threatening letters, or make threatening phone calls about phantom debts, or a non-existent debt, to try to convince people to send them money.

The BCPO received information from a Bergen County resident who reported that she received a phone call she believed was a scam. A female caller who identified herself as “Ms. Jackson,” called the resident’s home phone and knew the resident’s first and last names. As part of the scam, “Ms. Jackson” stated that she was a detective with the Bergen County DA’s Office, Restitution and Hot Checks Section, and that the resident owed the DA’s office $300.00 for not appearing in court. The caller also stated that since the resident missed her court date, interest and court fees were added, which brought the total owed to just under $600.00. Finally, the caller stated that a warrant would be issued for her arrest if the debt was not paid in full. The resident, believing this was a scam, ended the phone call and immediately contacted our office, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, not the Bergen County DA’s Office that does not exist.

To avoid becoming a victim of a phantom debt scam, follow these tips:

Be suspicious of callers making threatening claims requiring you to pay money that you do not owe.
Be wary of anyone who asks you to wire money or load a rechargeable money or gift card as a way to pay back debt.
Add your phone numbers, home and cellular, to the National Do Not Call Registry. This will not stop all unsolicited calls, but it will stop most.
If your number is on the registry and you still get calls, hang up and report them at donotcall.gov.

If you receive an unsolicited phone call and suspect it is a fraud, or if you are the victim of a scam, report it to your local police department.

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