LEGAL SCAM ALERT! Schmidt & Associates Phone numbers (562) 888-6490 and (866) 601-7396
THIS BLOG IS BEING POSTED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES! If you have questions about a call you received, please call your attorney (which is not me).
I get some strange calls these days – people pretending to be the IRS, the US Department of Justice, and even people that claim I can pay my tax debt with iTunes gift cards (I can’t help it, I love to string them along, even if it’s a profound waste of my time).
*IMPORTANT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: You cannot pay tax debt with iTunes gift cards!!!
As you may or may not know, I am an attorney and am pretty skeptical about anyone who I don’t know that is calling me and asking for personal information, whether it be for myself, my clients or my friends and family.
This morning I received a message from someone claiming to be looking for my father (on my cell phone), because they wanted to serve him with legal paperwork. They claimed to be calling from Schmidt and Associates, which was alleged to be a law firm. The number they called from was (562) 888-6490 and requested a return call to (866) 601-7396. The message was fairly -detailed, but oddly, the person that left the message continuously referred to my father as “she”. Also, a quick Google search of both numbers did not show any evidence that the numbers were actually connected to a law firm.
I was already about 4 cups of coffee in this morning, so I thought, I’ll give them a call and see what all of the fuss is about.
The conversation stunk from the beginning.
Problem Number 1: For starters, the scammers forgot to give required disclaimers related to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. A real debt collector would rarely forget this, because if they do, you can sue them for it! The conversation already seems a little fishy.
Next, the person on the phone told me that urgent legal papers were about to be served on my father and the matter had been “outsourced” to a process server! Oh, no! Not urgent legal papers! And they are being personally served? These people MUST mean business!
Problem number 2: If I wanted to serve someone with legal papers, I probably would not call their son and let him know that the papers were coming. In my industry, serving papers is not easy. If you tell someone that legal papers are coming, it’s even more difficult. The trick is to surprise someone (at home, at work, at the movie theater, wherever). I never call someone’s son in advance to let them know that legal papers are coming.
But, I digress. Back to the conversation.
The person on the phone then asked me if I was a relative and I said: you bet. Then I asked, who was suing my father? After all, this is America; anyone can sue anyone. So naturally, I wanted some insight into this current urgent legal matter.
The woman on the other end of the phone then stated that she could not talk with me about my father’s urgent legal matter and could only talk with my father’s attorney. Jackpot! Not only am I an attorney licensed to practice law in 4 states, but I am also my father’s attorney (his contributions to my education have earned him a legal retainer that never really runs out).
After letting my new friend on the other end of the phone know of my name and credentials, I was told that “as an attorney, you know that I cannot speak with you without a power of attorney”.
What? EEEEHHH….. Wrong!
This is not true. Insurance companies and debt collection agencies generally require some sort of letter of representation, not a “power of attorney”. Just a letter on my legal letterhead, signed by me. In my 11 years in the biz, I have never had to get a “power of attorney” from a client to talk about legal matters (maybe an authorization, sure, but definitely not a power of attorney).
Then I asked the simple question: “Where are you calling from”? Remember, debt collectors and attorneys cannot legally conceal their identity and always disclose where they are calling from, without the need to pry.
When she refused to provide this information, I stated that I was going to report her and her firm to the State Bar of California (it was a California number, so what the heck). What happens next?
To my surprise, the person on the other end of the call hung up on me! How could she?!? Where is the mutual respect for other colleagues in the legal profession?
Is this the end of the story? Heck no!
So who calls me 5 minutes later after being hung up on? My Mom! My Mom and I generally set aside Saturday mornings for conversations, so the fact that she is calling me on a Wednesday morning makes me nervous. There must be trouble afoot!
In a panic, my mother tells me: “You’ll never guess who just called me”? By now, I am five cups of coffee in, have already discussed the call with my father and my psychic senses are feeling more elevated than usual. I reply to my Mom: “Schmidt & Associates”! Taken aback by my response, my mother says: “You are right! In fact you are always right about everything!” (well… maybe she did not add the second part).
Come to find out, not only did they call my mom, they also called my sister –and at this point, the whole family is going bananas and wondering if my father is going to be heading to the slammer!
Relax, Family. Nobody’s going to jail today. These guys are just scammers.
If I were to take a wild guess, I would say that the calls from Schmidty Schmidt & the Funky Bunch are part of a new, longer con and my family’s reaction is just what they were looking for. They call family members in an effort to elevate the sense of urgency in hopes of getting someone to return their call and send them money. It’s just another scam; don’t send them your money. If you receive a call from an attorney, ask for the name and phone number of the law firm, then have your attorney call them. If they don’t provide it, something is not right.
Is there an end to this Blog in sight? I know we all want it to stop, but before I could even finish writing, I get YET ANOTHER call from 815-770-2496! And, it’s Mary Jones from Harvard, Illinois! And not only does Mary Jones sound pissed (as pissed as a computer-generated voice caller can, anyway) but she says I am about to be arrested! Mary, my dear friend: unfortunately, I have to get back to work and have to stop with this rambling blog. I assure you, I will get to you another time. But please, please, please stop calling me.
Moral of the story? I am not sure there is one. But, here are a few things to consider:
*The IRS does not call you, they send letters and show up in person.
*The IRS will never ask you to wire money or pay them in iTunes gift cards.
*No law enforcement agency calls you to inform you that you are about to be arrested (all you have to do is watch an episode of Live PD to figure this out).
*Law firms are required to disclose their credentials.
*If you get a call from a strange number, Google it – it might give you valuable information about who the caller really is (or is not).
If you want to sue a bank or a brokerage firm due to securities and investment fraud, then by all means, call me. If you want to discuss this Blog, please call someone else (just don’t call Mary Jones, because I can assure you: she’s nothing but a gold digger)!