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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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124 Comments

Erin97 (not verified)
September 24, 2018

In reply to by Leslie00 (not verified)

I received a letter as well. Debt Relief Center out of Phoenix, AZ. Scam? Unless my ID was stolen on the dark web, and used to open credit cards under my name, I don’t think I have any unknown debt, certainly not 18K. FTC, can you look into these guys? DEBT RELIEF CENTER 1-800-657-8990
GuyWithALetter (not verified)
October 22, 2018

In reply to by Erin97 (not verified)

I got one too today. Out of Phoenix as well but different phone number. I looked up the number and it is tied to Sedona Guest Services. Definitely a scam
skeptical (not verified)
October 04, 2018

In reply to by Leslie00 (not verified)

Got a letter today (4 October). Supposedly the 2nd notice. Looks quite fraudulent as it includes "Est. Credit Card Balances"...in other words, they are phishing as they have no clue that we have zero credit card balances. Also, never got a first notice. The generic name seems to be a giveaway too. I'm ignoring it.
LooksLikeAScam (not verified)
November 07, 2018

In reply to by skeptical (not verified)

I got one today (November 7) that definitely looks fake. Est. creditor Balances $16,000 and is my Second Notice. Never received a First Notice. New Proposed Term is 36 Months, $240 a month. I have no outstanding balances. Total Scam! Place of Phoenix, AZ. Debt Relief Center? Looks generic
gorgesborges01 (not verified)
November 10, 2018

In reply to by LooksLikeAScam (not verified)

Definitely a scam, I received one too with the number 1 800 319 2366 and reverse searched the number and it came up as a scam.
Alp83 (not verified)
September 27, 2018
Is Greenwise Debt Relief Program a scam?
Sunflower63 (not verified)
September 27, 2018
I just received a letter from this debt relief center. It pretty much sas they are willing to negotiate a settlement with me for a debt incured if $15000 I've never applied or been approved for anything that high. This thing is not even on my credit report. So why am I getting this notice. The letter looks legal. I'm concerned. What should I do?
decibel (not verified)
September 29, 2018

In reply to by Sunflower63 (not verified)

This is a complete scam. Tear up the letter, put in trash and forget about it. If the debt is not showing on your credit report, this is fraud.
nedz (not verified)
October 15, 2018
Have anyone heard of "Relief Financial Services" based in California? They called me for school loan forgiveness and claimed that they work directly with Department of Education.
Shamrok12 (not verified)
October 19, 2018
I got a call from Quality Solutions from someone named Lisa. This is the 3rd voicemail they have left. When I called it back, it was someone else and they seemed aware of the issue and took me off their call list. Phone number - 858-753-6672
TracyH (not verified)
October 23, 2018
I just received a call at work from a man stating he was with AMG; stated that I had signed up for a debt consolidation loan and was trying to get personal info. I told him I hadn't signed up and he started yelling at me that I had. He said you probably thought it was for a free gift card, how else do you think I got your work number? I told him I couldn't answer that because I don't put my work number on anything. He started yelling again, "this is debt consolidation!!" and then hung up. Very weird!
Metoo (not verified)
October 23, 2018
I too received a call from someone named Lisa with Quality Solutions. She left a message to call her back at (801) 406-7988. She mentioned something about a debt deposit program. I haven't called her back.
Whoslisa@qs? (not verified)
October 29, 2018

In reply to by Metoo (not verified)

I have received a couple calls from Lisa in the last month. Anyone figure out if this is a scam or not?
scammed notary (not verified)
October 29, 2018
As a notary I have become a pawn in these scams am now refusing to get people to sign these papers. There should be a way we can check for scams before we get used to legitimize their scam.
Suspicious (not verified)
November 09, 2018
Just got a letter from Debt Relief Center in Arizona 800-319-2366. Important Second Notice never got a first notice. Credit Card Balances $25,000 Proposed Settlement Offer $12,500 or $375 a month. I do not have anywhere near the balances stated. The letter looks official has my name, address and county. Pretty scary. There CC balances information is false. Consumer beware.
schmih1 (not verified)
November 15, 2018
I received one yesterday too. it is from Debt Finance Department Phoenix , AZ 85002 phone number 800 597 0255 !
Nmf19 (not verified)
November 21, 2018

In reply to by schmih1 (not verified)

Same. A letter came from Debt Finance Department (PO Box 25006 PMB 32525 Phoenix, AZ) saying it was the second notice and "previous attempts to contact you have been unsuccessful"...all of which were red flags this was not authentic and had me Googling how I could alert the BBB etc. It also had the same number you mentioned (800) 597-0255 which of course I didn't call.
Angry Consumer (not verified)
November 24, 2018
Got a letter from Debt Finance Department with phone number 800-597-0255 for $30000.00 Creditor Balance. The letter is so fake, wonder who will fall for it. Hate how they print Debt Finance Department outside of the envelop and made my family going after me about the matter. Hate those scammer and wonder why government is not doing much about it. Properly too busy fighting the world.
Williams (not verified)
December 02, 2018

In reply to by Angry Consumer (not verified)

I also received this, I'm glad I was able to find this.
Bubba BS (not verified)
November 26, 2018
Got a letter from Debt Finance Department with phone number 800-597-0255 for Est. $33,000.00 Creditor Balance, "SECOND NOTICE"... This is not an engagement offer, only an invitation to meet with a representative to determine interest and qualification....
kg195 (not verified)
November 27, 2018
I too received letter from Debt Finance Department with phone number 800-597-0255 for $17000.00 Creditor Balance. The letter is so fake, wonder who will fall for it. please people do not fall for it. Its completely fake and i do not understand how they get our details
ddg11 (not verified)
November 29, 2018
I just received a phony letter from Debt Finance Department with phone number 800-673-2944. There's also a watermark "0927U" printed in the background. It has my maiden name from many years ago. Scammers need to get legit jobs.
Eald (not verified)
December 04, 2018

In reply to by ddg11 (not verified)

I got this letter too! Such a scam
Sue Sponte (not verified)
November 30, 2018
Got one today as well. Pretty slick, but totally bogus.
KACurly (not verified)
December 10, 2018
I get calls on a daily basis about credit card relief, I just hang-up. Today, I got a call from A Katherine Grey, saying she must speak to me about setting up a repayment plan for my unsecured debt. I was given a reference number. She never told me what company she represents. I just ignored the call. However, I was laid-off at 64.5 years old, and the company deducts my contribution to the healthcare reimbursement amount allocated last year. I figured, this is a scam....they are getting sofiticated in tactics.. If it’s for real, ask them to send a letter giving details. Don’t give address, just tell them to use the address on file.
Scared (not verified)
December 14, 2018
Is consumer relief counselors a scam?
Honolulu (not verified)
December 15, 2018
Yea just received that Arizona debt finance letter too. A phishing tactic at best if by some chance it's not a complete scam. They got a list of names and addresses, probably from any number of corporate data breeches and are just mailing out notices with random data to legitimate addresses. Likely looking for people with actual debt who will respond to the letter. For the sole purpose of profiting off of innocent people. Something needs to be done about all fraud because we all know people who will fall victim to such tactics. And it is wrong.
onemorescammed (not verified)
December 17, 2018
I too just received the letter fro Debt Finance department, Phoenix, AZ Phone No. (800) 701-3446, titled "Important Second Notice" stating I have debt of $17,000 and proposing a settlement offer of $8,500. I never received an earlier notice and I also have no debts whatsoever and never missed a credit card payment. This is so fake, I will be surprised if anyone will fall for it unless they are really desperate. That said, authorities need to do something about these scammers.
vivmar18 (not verified)
December 18, 2018
First I want to say thanks for all who have shared their story and knowledge on here. My question is, are there any real debt relief companies out there? Thanks.
Heather (not verified)
December 22, 2018
I'm not sure this is the same company, but my husband gave $700 by credit card to this type of company years ago while I was at work. They sent us a "letter" which was a photocopied form signed by some rando. After a few more years of struggle we got another notice from "Credit Services" (popular name) at a nonexistent WTC address, TELLING us to send them money so they could settle our debts. They were quite persistent and I reported them to the FTC. The thing was, they seemed to know exactly how much we owed. How does that happen? Credit bureau data breaches, I guess. Anyway, we are finally paying everything off in January and cutting up our credit cards forever. I had thought I could just work forever at the rate I was making, but it didn't pan out that way.
Iamworried (not verified)
December 30, 2018
Got the same notice dated 11/23/18 from Debt Finance department, Phoenix, AZ Phone No. (800) 701-3446, titled "Important Second Notice" stating I have debt of $16,000 and proposing a settlement offer of $8,000. Don 't recall receiving a first notice..usually don't pay attention to these. Worried about this so i decided to type the phone number and check if legitimate or not. Worried for innocent people getting scammed by these type of people, authorities need to do something about these scammers.
MWyman (not verified)
January 10, 2019
I keep getting calls from a person calling himself Matthew Hernandez, he says he is a student Loan Advisor from a debt relief center. at 866-928-1547. I haven't inquired about any kind of relief since my student loans are handled through the department of education. He made it sound as if that is where he got my information from. It was only after talking to him for about 15 min that he said he admitted that he was trying to get me to give him my information on my loans. This had my "this is a scam" red flag. I told him to remove my number from his list.
Kaylaj04 (not verified)
January 25, 2019
Has anyone heard of or used coast processing??
Buddy (not verified)
February 04, 2019
Is Quick Debt Services LLC from California a scam? They offered to settle large IRS debt for $1,000. Charging me $600/mtg = $6000. Sounds Too good to be true. Advice please
FTC Staff
March 19, 2019

In reply to by Buddy (not verified)

It's good that you are asking questions about a company that wants to take your money to settle a large debt.

You can help yourself. The IRS.gov website has free information for people who have tax debts and need help. The website has a Help link on the homepage, and questions and answers about payments and penalties. It tells about help for struggling taxpayers.

Believeable (not verified)
February 12, 2019
Got a call from card services. They offered to recive my card payments. (yeah right) I let him do his little speech (was bored anyway) I began subtly faking senility, wife was tearing up laughing. The poor schmo first thought he had a live one... Then realized it was hopeless. He sounded so frustrated the fourth time I asked if I had called him.
Fam5000 (not verified)
February 15, 2019
I received a call I wasn't expecting with incorrect information for my name. The caller's name was supposedly Lisa and she was allegedly calling to notify me that she had important sealed documents to hand deliver to my residence (which wasn't my address) within 1 hour. This sounds like a fraud attempt so I didn't attempt to return correspondence. She did not identify her company, just stressed the urgency of meeting up with her. All of these factors sound like a scam to me.
PammiBee (not verified)
March 19, 2019
I keep getting emails from US Debt Settlement (accounts@ saruya. sourcekick. net) and the subject is "Welcome to Greenwise Debt Relief: Important MessageUO." It looks like a scam so I don't even open it. Is it a scam?
Jason (not verified)
February 22, 2019
Anyone dealt with Pinnacle One Funding?
oldman1263 (not verified)
May 02, 2019

In reply to by Jason (not verified)

Jason I have done as much research as possible and it seems that they barely exist. Kinda scares me.
Scam Scam Scam (not verified)
February 25, 2019
I received a letter in today's mail - same pink notice that you all talk about above. Unfortunately you did not shut them down because they are still at it. Today is 2-25-19. Sick of scams. Funny part is I currently have no debt, I have everything paid in full and plan to keep it that way. Go away scammers
Naomi (not verified)
March 06, 2019
Is U.S Debt relief legitimate? We already sent our checks mnthly payment for them.Pls help us,so we can stop our payment if it is a scam.
FTC Staff
March 19, 2019

In reply to by Naomi (not verified)

Did the company say it will help you settle credit card debt? There are risks when you sign up with a company that says it will help you settle credit card debt. Read this article about debt settlement scams.

Is the company helping you with debts, or is it urging you to file for bankruptcy? Bankruptcy can hurt your credit. Read about debt relief versus bankruptcy.

We have more articles about dealing with debt.

 

Harris (not verified)
March 18, 2019
Years ago we used a debt relief program called No More Mortgage to pay down our Mortgage and outstanding debt. The company charged us a large upfront fee (around $9000) which they said was a program fee and it was financed through them. When we finally smartened up, about 11 months into the program, and realized what they were doing was illegal and we could negotiate with the credit card companies ourselves we stopped paying No More Mortgage and took over our cc payments and our Mortgage ourselves. They are now, years later, coming after us for the outstanding initial program fees that that say we owe them, which is somewhere around $8000!!! How can I dispute this and/or sue them since the upfront charge was illegal to begin with? They are saying it will go on my credit report in april if we don’t pay. Any advice would be helpful!!
FTC Staff
March 19, 2019

In reply to by Harris (not verified)

You can tell the FTC about a problem you have with a company; go to www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

You could talk with a lawyer about the outstanding fees claim. Use this state-by-state list from the American Bar Association to find a private lawyer in your state. It also has information about your state court system and explains what you can do on your own. If you have old debts, collectors may not be able to sue you to collect on them. State law determines how long a debt collector has to sue you. Check with a legal aid lawyer, another attorney, or your State Attorney General’s Office if you have an old debt.

Jessica (not verified)
April 22, 2019
Getting debt consolidation letters with no company name. Called the number and it's an answering service who then transfers you to someone. Asked the guy the company name and I'm told American Enrollment Group in San Diego. Seems fishy to me? Anyone hear of them? Can't trust anyone anymore.
Tsikoy (not verified)
May 19, 2019
Letter came from Debt Relief Dept. in Boston. contact phone: 800-5604322 states that my estimated credit card balances* 20,000 with proposed settlement of 10,000. Scam. I do not have that balance states that they do not pull credit history and was only estimated based on demographics and zip code. Scam. I do not have credit card balances.
steviesong (not verified)
August 06, 2019
Although the company was shut down previously for investigation of fraud, I received an offer of credit card balance settlement from DSO of Pompano Beach, FL 33064. It came through the postal service, with an upside-down stamp and no postmark. The mailing included the phone number 888-344-6282. Obviously a scam.