Updated: November 29, 2017
Originally Posted: May 9, 2016
Alert Number: CA045959_11/28/17(11/18)
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) warns consumers that before doing business with a financial institution, company, or individual, they should make sure that the entity is properly licensed. Consumers are urged to verify license status prior to giving the financial institution, company, or individual any nonpublic personal information, such as social security number or bank account number or access.
DFI received a complaint indicating that individuals using the entity name “Berks and Lewis Litigation” contacted a consumer via telephone attempting to collect a debt. The individuals asked the consumer to verify her identity with sensitive information. The consumer reported having no knowledge of a loan with the entity. The consumer reported that the telephone calls were made to her workplace from several different telephone numbers, including a California number for a legitimate business claiming no relation to the scam, and that the callers had initially represented that they were a courier service and had a package for her, leaving her a phone number and reference number. When the consumer called that number back, the person answering the phone call tried to obtain the consumer’s personal information. The consumer reported that the caller had attempted to contact co-workers as well.
“Berks and Lewis Litigation” is not registered to conduct business in Washington State by the DFI, Department of Licensing, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State.
Debt Collection Laws
Collection activities by third parties are subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Consumers should request a written validation notice from a person attempting to collect a debt allegedly owed to a third party. The validation notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and the rights that a consumer has under FDCPA. Consumers should never make payments over the phone to a third party debt collector that refuses to provide a written validation notice. If you have questions regarding debt collection laws please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC HELP or online at www.ftc.gov.
Washington State residents, if you are suspicious of unlicensed activity by a lender please contact the Department at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam please contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at www.ftc.gov; or contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (855) 411-CFPB (2372) or online at http://www.consumerfinance.gov. If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other nonpublic information, you may be a victim of identity theft and you should take appropriate precautions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information for victims of identity theft available online at www.ftc.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet please contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at www.ic3.gov.
If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at www.ftc.gov.