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If you feel smothered by your monthly bills, a call from someone who says they can reduce or eliminate your debts might sound like the answer to your problems. But in many cases, unscrupulous people are behind these calls. They don’t have any intention of helping you, but are very interested in taking your money. How can you tell if you’re dealing with a debt relief scammer? Because they ask you to pay them before they do anything for you.

That’s what the FTC and the Florida Attorney General said happened in a massive debt relief scam they were able to stop last month. The defendants told people they would pay, settle, or get rid of their debts. But they didn’t. Instead, they just took people’s money. Over time, people found out that their debts were not paid, their accounts were in default, and their credit scores were severely damaged. Some people even got sued by their creditors, or were forced into bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, scammers try to take advantage of those dealing with debt – but there’s legitimate help out there. You can talk to your creditors directly to negotiate a modified payment plan. You also can look for credit counseling. To find reputable help, start with a credit union, local college, military base, or the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service. And if you decide to work with a debt relief service, remember this:

  • A legitimate debt relief company won’t make you pay up front. That’s illegal.

  • No one can guarantee that your creditors will forgive your debts.

  • Your report can help stop a debt relief scam. If you spot one, tell the FTC.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

June 16, 2017
I had a call last week from Credit Card Services on the high interest they had charged and they wanted my card information. They had them all listed. I didn't answer the phone after they man talked to his boss.
Bad Luck
June 21, 2017

In reply to by gbrandenberger

I got a call from Credit Card Services two weeks ago and they wanted money before I got my credit card rate of 0%. Come to find out they opened a credit card without my permission. If it sounds too good it usually is.
March 06, 2018

In reply to by Bad Luck

I got a call from credit card services. They took my card number an last 4 numbers on my ss #. I called an cancelled the the card. Now they keep calling constantly. What should I do?
July 20, 2018

In reply to by Tammy

If you have a person near you when they call (preferably a male with a gruff or stern sounding voice.) Have them answer greeting them from the county sheriffs office, fraud division. Scares the cap outta them theyll leave you alone lol
June 16, 2017
Thank you so much for posting this information on the Internet. I am trying to resolve my debt to income ratio at 64 years old, an unmarried woman, and I have talked to several debt relief companies and was not comfortable with their terms. I bought a home last September, been in the hospital twice in 2017, and I became head of my household last December when my unemployed grand daughter and my 9-mo old great grand daughter had to move in due to domestic abuse. It has been a struggle and thank you for looking out for the good citizens of this country. Respectfully, Connie M.
June 18, 2017

In reply to by Columbinemarie

Sorry for your situation. Have you contacted your lender to ask if they can put a payment on the end of the loan ? Many county agencies have resources for emergency situations. The Agency on Aging in your area has resources for you. Hope this helps.
August 27, 2018

In reply to by Columbinemarie

I agree with them, that you can call the companies you owe money to on your own. I did this several years ago, and they are really happy to work with people who are making an effort to pay their debts.
June 16, 2017
Why even give any telemarketer any time at all? They are complete strangers!!!!
June 16, 2017

In reply to by Julcion

People listen because the offers sound so good. To those struggling with massive debt, these offers are very tempting. Too bad they usually are just a way to steal you're money and leave you even worse off.
June 19, 2017

In reply to by Julcion

Although I have NoMoRobo protecting my land line and an app protecting my cell phone, I look up the phone numbers of telemarketers that were blocked and call them back to collect intelligence for reporting back to the FTC complaint site. Without complaint data, the FTC would not have enough "ammunition" to make charges stick in federal court and fine and shut down these criminal organizations, like Rachel from Card Services recently. For some of us, it's a "sporting event" for a good cause.
June 20, 2017

In reply to by Crotalus

Hello Crotalus, I would like to know what app you are using to protect your cell phone?
March 03, 2020

In reply to by Crotalus

I also have a Rachel from card services calling me every day. I tried calling the number back but I am told that it’s not a working number.
February 17, 2019

In reply to by Julcion

I was told if I get these phone calls and I think it’s too good to be true to have them send it to me in writing. I now have it in front of me in writing and when I called they were asking for $350 upfront.
June 19, 2017
Is Global Enrollment group scam or hacker?
June 20, 2017
I get these calls about twice a week. They've gotten smarter by using spoofed local numbers. I normally just try the get them to hang up first by insulting them. I try to pick their hot buttons. Some revert back to their scripts, then I use swear words in Hindi if they are from that part of the spectrum. When I call back their incoming numbers it's normally a disconnected or someone's number they didn't know someone was spoofing. I'm to the point where I don't answer anything unless I recognize the name on the caller ID.
July 12, 2017
I get about two to three of these calls a week about student loan relief. I don't know why they call, I never had a student loan.
Just mr roth
October 05, 2018

In reply to by JSP

I get these calls daily. Several. Both my house and cell phones. I also get the auto warranty calls as well.
July 24, 2017
Does anybody know anything about Higher Level Processing? I revived a call today and fell for it unfortunately.
October 02, 2017
Has anyone had any experience with Freedom Financial Services? Sounded good at first and when they talked about how much per month I would have to pay, I can say no cuz it's only $108 less per month than what I am paying. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
March 22, 2018

In reply to by Dont_trust_promises

I have my conventional home loan with them after I specifically stated that I was only interested in info on a HARP loan. I have had so much trouble with them, my advice to everyone is, "Run as far, and as fast, as you can and don't look back!"
October 30, 2017
Received call on my cell from 704-852-3052 and received a recording covering credit card interest rates. I stayed on the line and spoke to some young lady. Asked her which company she was working for and she answered 'IRP'. I then asked which company it was associated with and she hung up. Called the number back and was informed it was not in service!
December 03, 2017
Have you heard anything bad about christian debt counselors? based our of FLorida?
January 02, 2018
I was paying a company to help to lower my credit card debts. I paid for 17 months and then found out they were closed by the FTC. I was told I may get some or all my money back. I haven't heard anything since. I want to fill out something to request a refund but when I go into it only Q & A comes up. Does anyone know what I need to do to get some or all of my money back?
FTC Staff
March 09, 2018

In reply to by Boni

You can report what happened to you to the FTC at You can tell how much money you paid and give your name and contact information if you want.  The information will go into a database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. That way the FTC will know that you paid money to the company.

The FTC has a list of cases that are providing refunds. If you see the name of the company you paid on that list, call the contact information on the list.

July 20, 2018

In reply to by Boni

On the FTC website, on the bottom of one of the pages says 'getting your money back'
January 24, 2018
is freedom debt relief a scam
February 20, 2018
I have had debt relief calls several times a week. They are robocalls but then the most recent one I got, a man came on and verbally and sexually harassed me. How can we get these calls to stop. It was a local number and they are not local. How can it be reported if you can't trace the company
March 06, 2018
is there a law firm called national credit card relief center?
March 29, 2018
DebitRid is trying to scam money off of me when I don’t even owe16,000 they need to not send me another piece of paperwork stating I do and they will settle for so & so amount the said 8,000. I will have them arrested for harassment. I am always responsible with my bills. I pay everything on time
April 07, 2018
I called National Debit Relief and they returned my call, we talked over my credit card situation, we were considered to be hardship case, half hour later they returned my call saying we were accepted into their program and next few days to sent them a certain amount of money on a monthly basis and we would be debit free in .24-48 months, i signed papers to start the process then a legal paper from attorney shows up to sign for a fee of $12 per month which is included in the monthly fee already set. I said how can you pay all my debits with only $500 a month. My gut says do not trust this although they are BBB certified?
FTC Staff
June 22, 2018

In reply to by MG

You could talk to your credit card company yourself about a repayment plan. You do not need to pay a company to create a repayment plan for you.

If a debt relief company tells you to pay before it does any work for you, it's a scam. If you send your money to a debt settlement company instead of your credit card company, you are taking a risk. The payment might not get to your credit card company on time. You might get charged late fees. Read about different ways to cope with debt.

February 14, 2019

In reply to by MG

I thought when I gave up my land line these calls would stop, or at least slow down. NOT. I get them at lease 3-4 times a week, sometimes 2X a day for everything from credit card debt consolidation & student loan threats--I never had a student loan. I also get the ones that tell me the IRS is coming to arrest me for some infraction or other, & to top it all off, I get them in Chinese (which I am not). I block every number, but it doesn't seem to help. They just move on to the next number. One thing everyone should be aware of : Being BBB certified is not necessarily a stamp of honesty. Anyone listed with BBB pays an annual fee to be there. I assume the ratings are done through good references, but once I learned that, it made me a bit skeptical of the value of a BBB certification.
May 31, 2018
Can someone tell me if Quality Solutions is a scam or not
June 20, 2018

In reply to by Sosagyal

I got a random call from a representative today. I'm on a sold calling list somewhere that I haven't inquired about debt management! It smells of scam call and this was my only search reply so that's a second sign of not a legitimate business. If I need help, I'll stick with my local Consumer Credit Counciling Service! BBB aproved.
October 05, 2018

In reply to by Sosagyal

I Would like to know also. Just received message from them
November 15, 2018

In reply to by Sosagyal

I got a call from them about a loan I didn’t apply for out of Paris. I don’t have credit cards let alone debt. They are scammers! There may be a company by that name but I doubt they would call you unless you asked them to specifically.
November 27, 2018

In reply to by Sosagyal

Did you ever find out if this is scam company? I did apply for a loan recently and the reached out afterwards
February 05, 2019

In reply to by Sosagyal

i got this call too! from “hazel”
June 01, 2018
Know anything about Tristar Consummer Law Debt validation and elimination program
June 16, 2018
My wife just received a call from Legal Debt Relief Center about relieving some of our credit card debt. Has anybody heard of this company? I tried googling their website and the website name is parked. I emailed there a address and its a UPS Store box. I emailed and according to records it up for lease. Good thing I checked into this company before we did anything.
June 20, 2018
Is anyone familiar with Phoenix City Debt Relief? Are they a scam?
June 26, 2018
Is Quality Solutions or National Debt Relief a scam?
FTC Staff
August 15, 2018

In reply to by Beedebbie

When you check out a company, remember:

  • If a debt relief company tells you to pay before it does any work for you, it's a scam.
  • If you send your money to a debt settlement company instead of your credit card company, you are taking a risk. The payment might not get to your credit card company on time. You might get charged late fees. Read about different ways to cope with debt.
February 25, 2021

In reply to by FTC Staff

I have a company that has been calling up to five times per day as they are trying to get me to sign over my debt and then have the balanced eliminated by paying a fee. They have all my information including SS# without my saying anything. This confuses me as I have been a victim of identity theft and I am not even able to file taxes with my SS# (they send me a pin). I have recieved 100's of calls and have asked them to take me off their list. When I do this they mock me and become verbally aggressive. When I have hung up on them? They have their manager call back and "shame me." I recorded a message where he told me that I was rude and indicated that my "rudeness" could "hurt" my credit. I told them I am not interested and they keep calling. I started to say "Wrong number when they ask for me" to which they reply "Okay, Marcia."
Beware of scams
June 29, 2018
I spoke to a representative from The Debt Relief Center after getting their phone number off of a Facebook ad. All they wanted was all my personal information. I wish I never would have called them. Scam.
August 14, 2018
Is freedom debt relief legit? from my research its mixed but im new to there program i cant lie I'm,scared and anxious but they hava been great at communicating so far I can see the plan and my funds via the dash but I'm,still extremely concerned if there success rate can help me currently hoping for the brst worse case if i don't see results in 6 months i may just file a chapter 7 any thought or feed back on them would be great I can't keep driving myself insane and second guessing myself.
August 20, 2018
this was helpful but did not answer my question about National Debt Relief, at 11 Broadway, Suite 1600 New York NY 10004
September 17, 2018
Is anyone familiar with Debt Relief Center? Is it scam?