Fraud Alert for Bankruptcy Filers

Bankruptcy Court


“New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster issues the following caution for people who have filed or may soon file for bankruptcy. There is an on-going telephone scam related to individuals who have filed bankruptcy papers in court. The scammers, apparently using information from public filings in the bankruptcy court, will call a person who has filed for bankruptcy, claiming to be that person’s lawyer, the lawyer’s partner or a member of their law office staff. Using software that can affect a person’s caller ID system, they make it appear that the call is actually coming from the person’s lawyer. The scammers instruct the unwitting consumer to immediately wire money to satisfy a debt. The calls may be made late in the evening or during non-business hours so the person receiving the call cannot contact his or her lawyer to confirm the request. Any person who receives such a call should not wire funds and should contact their lawyer as soon as possible. Scams should also be reported to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau at 1-888-468-4454.  Consumers with consumer-related complaints or concerns can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Information Line at 1-888-468-4454 or file a complaint on-line.”

Read the entire Press Release at the NH Attorney General’s website.

Although it is possible to file a bankruptcy case without an attorney, it is not a step to be taken lightly. If you do not understand the law or if you fill out the forms incorrectly, you may unnecessarily lose property or jeopardize your discharge.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can refer you to a competent and insured bankruptcy attorney to help you decide whether bankruptcy is the right step for you.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Time-barred Debts

Some debts may be too old for a debt collector to make you pay, according to an article by Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist at the Federal Trade Commission.

Debt collectors can contact you about time-barred debts at any time. If you get a call from a debt collector, they might come right out and say they can’t take you to court to make you pay a time-barred debt. If a debt collector doesn’t tell you this, ask for the date when you made your most recent payment. Then, ask for a validation notice – a legally required letter detailing the amount owed, and the creditor name. Once you receive the notice, send a letter back within 30 days explaining that you are ‘disputing’ the debt and that you want to ‘verify’ it. Debt collectors must stop trying to collect until they give you verification.

To find out what to do if you are sued, and if you have to pay the debt, read the entire article.

This video from the FTC provides additional information:  Dealing with Debt Collectors

If you are sued over a time-barred debt (or any debt), don’t ignore it. The Lawyer Referral Service will connect you with an attorney who can assist you with defending your debt collection rights.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Consumer Protection Overview

No Credit Needed signNew Hampshire’s primary consumer protection law, “Regulation of Business Practices for Consumer Protection,” is commonly known as the Consumer Protection Act (RSA 358-A).   The New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act prohibits the use of any unfair or deceptive act or practice or any unfair method of competition in trade or commerce in New Hampshire. The state law specifically identifies the following practices as unfair or deceptive:

  • Claiming that goods are new or original when they are used, secondhand, deteriorated, reconditioned or altered.
  • Claiming that goods or services have certain characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or qualities, or certain sponsorship or approval when they really do not have such, or that a person has a certain sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that he or she really does not have.
  • Falsifying the place of origin of goods or services.
  • Passing off goods or services as someone else’s.
  • Disparaging another business’ goods or services by false or misleading statements.
  • Advertising goods or services with the intent not to sell them as advertised or failing to have a reasonable supply of goods or services provided on hand (unless the advertisement specifically says that quantities are limited).
  • Making false or misleading statements about the existence of, reasons for, or amount of price reductions.
  • Conducting “going out of business sales” which last more than 60 days or which are held more than once every two years by the same owners of the business.
  • Selling gift certificates for $100.00 or less that have expiration dates. (This does not apply to gift certificates or coupons that are given away.)
  • Dormancy fees, latency fees, or any other administrative fees or service charges that have the effect of reducing the total amount for which the holder may redeem a gift certificate are prohibited. (Does not apply to season passes.)

The above list provides examples of deceptive acts and is not an exhaustive list. In addition, some entities are “exempt” from the jurisdiction of the state court regarding consumer protection statutes violations so complaints must be filed with the entities regulating agency. For example, mortgage servicers are regulated by the NH Banking Department, so any complaint against a mortgage servicer regarding violation of NH Consumer Protection statute must be filed with the NH Banking Department.

How to file a Complaint in NH Courts

If you feel a business has violated the Consumer Protection Act, you may file a lawsuit seeking damages in NH state courts. If the court finds a violation, you may be entitled to an award for actual damages, statutory damages of $1,000 and payment of your attorney’s fees. If the court finds a violation was willful, you may be entitled to double or treble damages.

How to file a Complaint with Attorney General’s Office

Alternatively, or in addition to a state court complaint, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Complaints are read and reviewed in the order in which they are received by the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau. The bureau responds to complaints as quickly as possible. Information about how to file a complaint and the complaint review process can be found here.  If the bureau initiates an action against the business, it initiates the investigation and complaint on its own behalf and not as your attorney.

Additional Information

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office provides a Consumer Sourcebook as a comprehensive guide with useful links to the following:

  • General information about the laws that apply to a variety of consumer transactions.
  • Examples of how the law might apply to a situation.
  • Points to keep in mind if you find yourself in a variety of circumstances.
  • Ideas for where to turn for more help.

NH Debt Collection Law

Debt collection practices in New Hampshire are governed by both state statute and federal law: The New Hampshire’s Unfair, Deceptive or Unreasonable Collection Practices Act (RSA 358-C); and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. § 1692-1695.)

Both are designed to instruct debt collectors as well as consumers as to the limits of collection practices, while protecting consumers from abusive debt collection practices. The laws are also in place to provide consumers an avenue for recourse in disputing a claim.

Both the state statute and federal act provide illustrative examples, and expressly allow consumers to sue debt collectors for violations of pertinent statutory provisions.

Under the FDCPA, a debt collector must always:

  • Identify themselves and notify the consumer that any information obtained will be used to effect collection of the debt.
  • Give the name and address of the original creditor
  • Notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt
  • Provide verification of the debt within 30 days of request

If you believe your rights have been violated under any of these laws, consulting with an attorney who regularly handles Consumer Protection cases can make all the difference.  The Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to the right one, at no cost to you.  Call 603-229-0002 or submit an online request form.

Photo credit Flickr Creative Commonsfrankieleon

May Is National Moving Month – Don’t Get Scammed!

May is National Moving Month – the busiest time of the year for people changing residences.  It’s also a busy time of the year for unlicensed movers and scammers.  For tips on how to spot con-artists and avoid scams, check out this video by the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).


If you have been scammed by an unscrupulous moving company, contact the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association for a referral to a licensed and insured attorney who represents consumers.  Call (603) 229-0002 or request an online referral.


Guidance for Charitable Giving

Press Release by Michael Delaney, NH Attorney General

The holiday season is a time when New Hampshire citizens receive dozens of solicitations in the mail, over the telephone, and through social media for contributions to charitable and charitable-sounding organizations.  While the vast majority of these organizations are legitimate, the Attorney General’s Office receives numerous reports of charitable solicitation scams seeking donations to nonprofit-sounding entities which either do not exist or are not legitimate.

In order to better protect the generous donors in New Hampshire from false or fraudulent solicitations, New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney offers the following guidance to help insure your donation is used for a legitimate charitable purpose.

Be an informed donor:

The Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General’s Office posts a list of all charities registered with the Attorney General as well as a list of all registered professional fundraisers on its website:  All professional fundraisers soliciting donations on behalf of nonprofit organizations are required to obtain a permit from the Attorney General before the solicitation campaign is commenced and a listing of all approved campaigns are on the website. 

Follow these 10 Tips for Making Smart Donations:

1. Ask the solicitor for some identification before giving out any personal information.  By law, paid solicitors must identify the charity for which they solicit and their status as a paid solicitor. Do not be afraid to ask and if they refuse, do not hesitate to hang up and contact your local law enforcement agency.

2. Ask for printed or electronic materials from the charity.  Any legitimate charity can provide printed materials for you to study in order to better understand the charity and the charity’s purpose. Ask for materials that clearly state: (1) the name, address and telephone number of the charity; (2) a description of how and where charitable funds will be used; and (3) the name, address and telephone number of the paid solicitor.

3. Ask how much of your contribution actually goes to the charity. Professional fundraisers retain a portion of your donation as payment for the service provided to the charity.  According to New Hampshire law, solicitors and the charities for which they solicit are required to file an accounting of the fundraising campaign, which must include a copy of the terms of the fundraising agreement. This filing should indicate how much of the proceeds actually go to the charity and should be available for the solicitor to disclose to all potential donors.

4. Beware of high-pressure sales tactics and abusive behavior by solicitors.  No legitimate charitable fundraiser will refuse to take the time to explain the purpose of fundraising and the objectives of the charity in a courteous manner.  If you encounter abusive solicitation you should end the communication and contact your local law enforcement agency.

5. Keep records of all donations, including receipts and cancelled checks.  This information is especially important for tax deduction purposes and in case you have a complaint in the future.

6. Beware of solicitors “soliciting” for organizations that may have deceptively similar names to legitimate charities.  Many for-profit organizations style their names after charitable organizations.  Do not be deceived by these copy-cat businesses whose titles may differ by such minor terms as “association,” “federation,” “national,” “American,” “incorporated,” and “foundation.”  Do not hesitate to ask for more information and contact your local law enforcement agency if you are unsure of the legitimacy of any campaigns.

7. NEVER pay by cash and NEVER give out your credit card number over the phone.  When making a donation, simply make a check out to the charity itself, not to the paid solicitor, and use the charity’s full name. That way you have a record of the contribution and the money goes directly to the charity.

8. Call the charities that are the beneficiaries of the charitable fundraising campaign and ask if they are aware of the solicitation.  If the charities are unaware of the solicitation campaign on their behalf do not donate any money and contact the Charitable Trusts Unit or your local law enforcement agency immediately.

9. Don’t be deceived by solicitation gimmicks.  Use caution when purchasing products or tickets, or when receiving free merchandise in exchange for a donation. These methods may be legitimate but they add costs to the fundraising campaigns which are ultimately deducted from your donation. Also use caution when dealing with sweepstakes which may request donations worth more than the prize awarded, or which do not provide a prize at all.

10. Take time to verify all information before making a donation.  All charities and paid solicitors are required to register with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office prior to solicitation.  If you have any questions or problems, write to OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, CHARITABLE TRUSTS UNIT, 33 CAPITOL STREET, CONCORD, NH 03301-6397.

If in doubt, check it out:

While it is generally preferable to donate to charities that you are familiar with, please do not hesitate to call the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Unit before giving to any charity, especially one you are unfamiliar with.  The Unit’s telephone number is (603) 271-3591.  Most information filed by nonprofit organizations with the Charitable Trusts Unit, including annual reports and fundraising contracts, is open to the public under the State’s Right to Know Law and is available upon request. 

The holidays are a wonderful time for supporting charitable organizations and causes and this information is designed to assist New Hampshire citizens in selecting the best recipients of their charitable giving by providing donors with the information needed to make informed giving decisions.

If you believe you may have been the victim of a scam, contact the Lawyer Referral Service now at 603-229-0002 for a referral to an attorney who handles fraud related legal matters or request a referral online at