Have you ever gotten an email or a phone call from someone offering services that just sound too good to be true? They may sound credible and even have legitimate information on hand, but you can feel it in your gut that something is off? What about a call from the “IRS” demanding payment during tax season that just doesn’t seem right despite the caller having your personal information available? If so, you are amongst the millions of Americans that are bombarded with scam emails, and phone calls every single day. According to data from Transaction Network Services Inc. over 143 million high-risk calls were made on Tax Day 2018 alone. Differentiating scam calls from real businesses or organizations is getting increasingly harder to do. Learning to identify and avoid these scams is crucial to protecting yourself from cybercriminals. 

The Federal Trade Commission recently put a stop to a student debt relief scheme that raked in more than $23 million from unsuspecting consumers. According to the FTC, the multi-million dollar scammers lured victims into paying up-front fees with the promise of lowering their student loans monthly payment, or by redirecting the victim’s payment to themselves entirely. Some victims went months, or even years before noticing that their money was not being applied to their loan. Student loan debt is just one of many scams going around the U.S. but is undoubtedly one of the most successful at tricking consumers via scam phone calls. 

Michael Shurtleff, an attorney from Salem Law specializing in bankruptcy, speaks on the issue: “As a bankruptcy attorney, I frequently speak with people here in Salem who have been scammed and have been forced to file bankruptcy.  Unfortunately, it is rare that an individual is able to recover any money from the scammer.   As a bankruptcy attorney, I have a well-trained eye when it comes to spotting scams and I try to pass that knowledge along and teach other people how to spot scams.  Probably the best advice I could give anyone who is suspicious that something might be a scam is to simply pick up the phone and call a local bankruptcy attorney and ask them to check it out.  Bankruptcy attorneys have generally seen so many scams that they can spot one from a mile away.  The best part is that the consultation is almost always free so it is a great way to get a lot of helpful information and stay out of trouble.” When trying to identify a scam on your own, Shurtleff says “Whenever what is being offered seems too good to be true, the first thing I do personally is Google the phone number I was contacted from (or entity name) along with the word ‘scam.’  This often brings up all kinds of information indicating that whatever I am researching is a scam.”

Established in 2009, Salem Law and Michael Shurtleff are one of Oregon’s most experienced and active bankruptcy attorneys. He practices bankruptcy exclusively and has represented clients in numerous bankruptcy cases in his career. Michael earned his degree at Willamette University College of Law and believes in keeping things simple and keeping clients informed. Centrally located in beautiful Salem, Oregon, Michael Shurtleff assists clients all across the state of Oregon. Visit: www.michaelshurtleffattorney.com to see how he can help you remotely today.