In West Virginia this week, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office reports a new scam involves callers pretending to be FBI agents attempting to collect debts.

The scammers inform consumers that the FBI is monitoring their online activities and that a debt is owed that must be paid immediately. Morrisey's office is warning consumers to protect their personal information from such callers.

“These scammers will use the name of the FBI to give themselves an air of authority and make outrageous cash demands to the consumer,” Morrisey said in a statement. “When the consumer starts to question the debt or the amount, the scammer often will threaten legal action or jail, which can be especially troubling if the scammer has already shown they have your personal information."

Collection agents, by law, are required to provide written documentation of debts, including an amount, the creditor and consumers' rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If the caller is unwilling to provide this information, people should hang up.

Morrisey's office reminds consumers also that caller ID can be easily spoofed. Just because the name on a Caller ID display “FBI” or “Federal Bureau of Investigation” does not mean the call is coming from the FBI.

Also, wire transfers and pre-paid debit card transactions cannot be tracked down once sent. If a caller asks for a debt to be paid via wire transfer or pre-paid debit card, it’s almost a sure sign of a scam.

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