Consumer Alert: Beware of Scammers Pretending to be Attorney General or Claiming They Are Calling From Attorney General's Office
NEWARK – Scammers and con artists are continuing to pretend that they are calling or sending correspondence from the New Jersey Attorney General's Office in attempts to defraud consumers or obtain personal information in order to commit identity theft, officials warned today. Recently, consumers have reported receiving scam phone calls from individuals pretending to be the Attorney General.
"The Attorney General's Office does not call or mail consumers demanding immediate payment for allegedly overdue bills or unpaid fees. These unabashed scams are attempts by con artists to enrich themselves by creating a sense of fear and a false urgency so that victims will respond immediately and send money," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
In recent months, some consumers have reported that they received phony "arrest warrants" that demand payments, in addition to phone calls.
"When someone calls and threatens you with arrest unless you pay money, that is a clear sign of fraud," said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. "Don't send money out of panic or fear, take a moment to think through whether the person calling is really who he says he is."
Lee added that there is no legitimate reason why someone claiming to be with the Attorney General's Office would instruct consumers to wire money or load a pre-loaded or rechargeable debit card as a way to pay off a debt.
Advice for Consumers:
Though the details of each scam may differ, the goal is always to profit illegally at the victim's expense – either through outright theft or through identity theft.
Consumers should never send money, give away their personal or financial information, or click on a link or attachment, without first taking the time to make sure the communication they received is valid.
Consumers should independently verify the information in an email, phone call, or letter. Use another source to find a separate phone number for the person or entity that supposedly made the communication, in order to verify whether it was genuine. In government impostor scams, con artists will often demand secrecy, by demanding that the victim tell no one else about the payment. These criminals know that consumers are much more likely to become victims if they are prevented from discussing the scam with a friend or relative.
The Division of Consumer Affairs educates senior citizens and other New Jerseyans through outreach, such as:
- The Division's
"Cyber Safe NJ" includes important consumer protection information on "The Basics of Cyber Safety," "Preventing Identity Theft," and "Controlling Your Privacy."
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an
online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its
website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
Follow the Division of Consumer Affairs on
Facebook , and check our online calendar of upcoming
Consumer Outreach events.