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Getting a call from a debt collector can be stressful. But it can be downright frightening when the caller uses lies, profanity and threats to try to get you to pay. In a case announced today, the FTC says a debt collection operation in Charlotte, NC pretended to be lawyers. Really, they were not lawyers and had no authority to collect debts.

The FTC says the “collectors” used a variety of names to make people think they were dealing with a law firm. The imposters told people they were delinquent on a payday loan or other debt and threatened them with arrest, jail time, or getting sued unless they paid by credit or debit card over the phone.

Sometimes, the callers had personal information, like Social Security and bank account numbers, or relatives’ names. The callers used this information to convince people that the calls were legitimate.

In truth, the FTC says, the defendants pressured people into paying debts they never owed.

You can’t be arrested for not paying your bills. If a debt collector calls about a debt – and before you agree to pay anything – ask for a written proof that says how much money you owe and to who, and what to do if you don’t think you owe the money. By law, debt collectors have to send you a written document, called a validation notice, within five days after they first contact you. If they don’t, that’s a warning sign that they may not be legitimate.

Debt collection complaints account for nearly one-third of consumer complaints to the FTC. If you, or someone you know, has gotten a suspicious debt collection call, report it to the FTC at With your help, we’re finding the bad guys and putting them out of business.


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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.

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First Approach…
August 29, 2017
Thank you for doing your job. This type of scam is pervasive in our nation. Small businesses who have limited legal support are attacked daily. In some cases, actor/s have the ability to produce credit challenges and follow up pretending to be attorney seeking collection. Shameful.
October 18, 2017

In reply to by First Approach…

Getting these at work and at home all different numbers. I am reporting. Call back different numbers and referencing a file 1148964.
July 17, 2020

In reply to by AnnoyedGSONC

I was call today and was given a number to call,I called the number one guy was kind of nice, other one was very rude, accused me me of having a credit card in Jan. 2014, never had told him that he told me that I was lying, ask me did I have on drugs or liars. There was more said but i couldn't convince this man that i never had a credit card 2014, he said he was working for an collection agency. I asked if had one why wait for 6yrs. To collect on it. I never got an statement because i never had a credit card.
September 05, 2017

I have been getting calls from an attorneys office in Nashville Tn. Where I did live for 27 years. Not if it is my bill. I'm 60 years old , on disability since 2011. We had people living downstairs of us immediately harassed about this electric bill. My Fiance passed away. I had to leave our home. They are called. Robinson, Reagan and young.615/ 726 /0902. 446 a James Robertson pkwy suite 200 Nashville Tn. 37219 memory is off so I truly am not sure of this.

FTC Staff
September 05, 2017

In reply to by cindyh471

Under federal law, a debt collector must send you a written validation notice within five days after they first contact you.

The notice must tell you:

  • how much money you owe
  • who you owe money to
  • what to do if you think you don't owe money

You could tell a collector to send a validation notice. 

If you think the bill is not yours, you could call the Attorney General in Tennessee at 615-741-3491.

February 07, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Hello- I don't live in S. Florida any longer but I am getting very disturbing, harassment calls from what appears to be a payday loan mediation company stating that they are going to file a fraud charge with Miami Dade County Court if I do not pay them a certain amount to "settle out of court", I am sure they are likely a scam but they do not sound like it over the phone and have an old Miami address of mine. They said they mailed the notifications to the old address which I have not lived there for over 3-years... I have their number, the name of the woman with whom I spoke and her company as well as the payday loan company's name. They are scaring me a bit. I have an attorney but he is based in NYC, and he and I have dealt with I think this same company in the past. They harras then go dormant then resurface. I personally do not recall taking a loan with them and have had identity theft happen to me in the past so, I am not sure what to do... Could you advise me on what I should do? I am sure you are incredibly busy but I really do not know who to turn to at this point. I appreciate your time, please let me know. In the meantime here is the information that was just now given to me. They also said they emailed me but I never received anything and asked if they could resend but stated that it was too late for that???? Here is the info: I spoke with Lisa Carter (417) 244-4701 ext. 109 she is with the Apex Company and is calling on behalf of Equity Funding Payday loans. I am to call her no later than 12noon tomorrow to see if I wish to settle out of court and pay then over $700 or go to court and pay over $5K... it is very jarring.
FTC Staff
February 09, 2018

In reply to by gettingharrassed

Federal law requires, that within five days after they first contact you, a legitimate debt  collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you:

  • how much money you owe,
  • the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money,
  • and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money. 

You may be dealing with a fake debt collector. This FTC article about fake debt collectors explains the signs of a fake debt collector. A call may be from a fake debt collector if:

  • seeks payment for a loan you do not recognize;
  • exerts high pressure to try to scare you into paying,
  • threatens to have you arrested or reported to law enforcement

If you get another call, you could tell them to send a validation notice. If a caller refuses to give you all of this information, do not pay. Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them go away. They might call about another fake debt and attempt to get more money from you.

September 05, 2017
Also there is a Fox collection agency in Nashville Tn Calling me a lot. I mentally cannot deal with these rude, demanding people. Please help if you are able. Thank you .
Nashville resident
February 20, 2018

In reply to by cindyh471

Fox Collection is medical debt collection
August 29, 2017
Put them out of business.
August 29, 2017
This has happened to me numerous times. They've even called and threatened to serve me with papers at work to try and embarrass me. Thanks to this website though I've known to not be fooled by them.
August 29, 2017
I received a call from 1-866-636-2218. They called me to my work phone (I'm a teacher) the gentleman said he was an investigator from Taos County New Mexico and was about 30 minutes from my High School. He said he was going to the Principal to issue a summons in my name for a debt. This "debt" was from a Credit Card in 2005 that was paid off in 2008. The man said I had 30 minutes to call the 1866 number or else he would have to make a "scene" at the school I teach at. This is completely unprofessional and a scam! They didn't even know my home address.
fed up
January 03, 2018

In reply to by KennyMac

You should have told this man threatening you that you were calling the police and they would be there to meet him. Then call the police and report the man threatening you so they will send an officer.
March 11, 2019

In reply to by KennyMac

I had a person call from a similar number 186666297231. They pretended to be an attorney that is suing me for a supposed unpaid medical bill in 2005. They've been calling my friends and family. They actually have my husband and I 2 different answers of what I supposedly owed.. when I asked him to send me a validation letter, he said he could only email it. Then I brought up the stautue of limitations and he hung up on me. Haha
September 05, 2017

Calls coming in with the caller id showing V+many numbers. Can these reported to Do Not Call?

September 11, 2017

In reply to by drpjss

Those numbers are Verizon numbers. I mean they are calling from a phone number given out by Verizon.
September 22, 2021

In reply to by FYI

I just got a call my family that I don't even talk to got the same call about me. Saying a civil suit from my county. I decided to call and the guy said I am being sued for a Verizon bill from 2011 ummmm dude I have Verizon right now had for years how do I owe them??? Idk what's going on??
September 05, 2017
I received a call from a debt collector he was looking for my son. We told them to not call us once before. He had my husband in such a state that he was turning red. He told us he can call as much as he wants. He said he knows the law plus he works for the law firm. We told him we would call the state police if he called again. He said he knows all the cops so there is nothing we can do but give him my son's number. I got so mad that when we hung up I looked up an attorney and I was given this site. We get many of these calls about debt collecting. Other calls we receive never talk when you pick up the phone.
FTC Staff
September 05, 2017

In reply to by trofa5@

Under federal law, a debt collector can contact people besides the debtor, but only to find out the debtor's address, home phone or work location.

Under federal law, the collector can usually contact people only one time.  Read more about debt collection rights.

August 30, 2017
"debt collectors have to send you a written document, called a validation notice, within five days after they first contact you." Excellent tip.
September 13, 2017

In reply to by comment

Thank you for saying this. Peace of mind. I will make sure to mention that in future incidents. So scary for sure they almost had me pay upfront. They had the last four numbers of my debt card and had my #SSN and even called my work.
August 30, 2017
stop calling me from 844 369 3851. scammer alert
August 30, 2017
Receiving numerous robot phone calls from 580-289-2502 regarding an IRS audit and lawsuit.
January 10, 2018

In reply to by Chrismikemom

I received this call as well from 5802892502 or 8062892502 and they specified a tax audit for 2012 which was incorrect and demanded payment. Requested current information and asked to resubmit my tax return. I asked for a copy from the state tax be sent to me and they asked me to give a fax number to send it to and gave a fax to resubmit info. I went to H&R Block who filed my taxes since 2008. My 2012 tax from was missing from my files and they could not find the name of the person who was to complete the filing process for that year. It was missing. But the H&R rep submitted a letter and requested copy of their report. We tried to fax to the number several times and would not go through. I wrote a letter to the Wis State tax office in Kansas and sent all paperwork that was given to H&R to complete the 2012 tax form. **I received a letter from them thanking me for the info but what is this pertaining to?** I am really confused. I received one more call and a mailing requesting to pay 2000 some odd dollars to prevent them from taking personal property or freezing my bank account which I never did give to them.
Disgusted in CA
August 30, 2017
I've been chased by this scam, at least 1-2 of them, for 2 years now. They almost scared me into paying $900 on a $5k debt, that I was sure I did not owe. But, they called themselves an Arbitration firm and didn't have to give me a debt validation letter.When she threatened to have the process server bring a wage garn to my work the next day, I got scared and said I will call you back. She had the last 4 of my social,home address/phone#,work address and called me actually at my work#. I went to the bank and got verification that the account # to MY BANK, was not open or ever used by me. Googled the phone#,supposed name of firm, and found out all I could about these scams- called her back and said No thank you= send the Process Server.No one showed up-& 2 years later they still call my friends and family and leave horrible scary msgs that I am a defendant in a lawsuit and need to contact them. Such Bull. Don't be scared, get prepared. Know your rights and google google google the crap out of all the info they give you - 99.9% it's a scam. ;)
Sad beyond belief
April 17, 2019

In reply to by Disgusted in CA

I just got a call yesterday saying they were from Orange County courts (where I currently live) and that I was going to be summons to court if I didn’t pay right then. I asked for what debts, they gave me the info, I looked up the info and it looks like I have a debt according to this company, but I do not recognize the debt. I asked them to send me something in the mail in writing about this debt, they said they would email it to me, but mail would take to long and I will go to court before then. I’m 99% sure this is a scam. Any advice?
August 31, 2017
It should also be illegal for an unethical, but legitimate, company to put a legitimate debt into legitimate collections without first sending you a bill. This recently happened to me due to an emergency room visit.
September 01, 2017
I receive fake debt collection calls daily. All of them are bogus and illegal. I have never given in to any of them & nothing, I repeat, nothing has ever happened & my credit score remains high. My land line provider only allows me very limited call blocking, so it is useless. Maybe it's time to dump my land line since 90% of the calls are telemarketers & scammers.
September 01, 2017
Stop calling me from 855-707-6649. This is a credit scam, making you think you owe thousands of dollars from delinquent credit cards.
September 25, 2017

I received this email today? Is this a scam email?? c

ollection.dept. ace. cash m> wrote:

Re: SK03-91987

Dear Debtor, We are writing to you about the fact, despite previous reminders, there remains an outstanding amount of $910.75 in respect of the above invoice. This amount was due for payment from long span of time. Our credit terms stipulate full payment within 30days and this account is now days overdue. The total amount due from you is therefore $910.75.

If the full amount of the sum outstanding, as set out above, is not paid within 3 days of the date of this letter, we will begin legal action, without warning, for a court order requiring payment. We may also commence insolvency proceedings. Legal proceedings may affect any credit rating. The costs of the legal proceedings and any other amounts which the court orders, must also be paid, in addition to the debt.

This letter is being sent to you in accordance with the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct (the PDPAC) contained in the Civil Procedure Rules. The court has the power to sanction your continuing failure to respond. We await your immediate payment of the outstanding amount. Regards, Collection Department

December 05, 2017

In reply to by Anynomus

When you receive emails like this and they start with Dear Debtor (or other term) you can be almost certain it is a scam. Any legitimate business place that you do business with will know your name. Also, the language use such as: long term now, clearly screws up any legitimacy. Report the email to fraud @ whatever the place they sent it from.
January 29, 2018

In reply to by Anynomus

This is definitely a scam , and the writer is a foreigner, look at the language. Americans don't speak that way. Do not send them money or speak to them,
March 12, 2018

In reply to by Anynomus

First the scammer says the loan is from a long span of time. Then the scammer says full payment is due in 30 days and is now days, not a long span of time, overdue. These scammers are not the brightest bulbs in the light fixture.
September 04, 2017
What can I do with these septic companies like septic savior is one of them for the past 3yrs I have asked them not to call and take me off there call list and they still keep calling?
September 04, 2017
I have been getting several emails from scammers claiming to be from a payday loan company saying that if I do not pay the settlement money that they say I owe to them that they are going to file a lawsuit against me. They claim that they have all of my personal information on file and that I applied for a payday loan with their company and I refused to pay the loan back in full. These people are scammers and they need to be stopped ASAP!!!!
September 07, 2017
A company in charlotte claiming to be capital reassurance keeps calling saying that there is a claim against me and wheb i xalled back to see what this was about she said when she calls me back she will know.i laughed they keep calling i block the number not working so i had no choice to report it
September 28, 2017

In reply to by Lynn

I just got this same exact call...from 920)335-7123.
October 10, 2017

In reply to by Cheryl

I have been getting the same calls from a 320# claiming they are from Capital Reassurance about a payday loan from 2012 and that they are going to send every over to the county for garnishment. When I asked for validation they will not give me anything.
James dede 12
April 14, 2020

In reply to by Jarrodc08

I am getting scammed now by an andree law firm i didnt give them no info and they didnt give me no info now they email me every day for the past 2 weeks about a summons and arrest. Warrant and payment is due now and im being sued for a so called pay day loan and there being nice and then nasty and there still emailing me they gave me a fake so i am getting ready to report them
delicious 77
October 08, 2017

In reply to by Lynn

I got the same call two days ago, and the caller got user because I asked for something is writing and asked to speak to a manager. She said she is in charge of my account and make the decision and I can’t speak to anyone else. So I hang up 920-335-7123
November 13, 2017

In reply to by Lynn

I got a the same call too... Capital Reassurance 682#.
March 28, 2018

In reply to by Annoyed...

this place just called me saying I owed from a "loan" in 2012 which I said I never took out a loan. he was very rude and used foul language. then said, ok maam well see you at your job when we service your judgement
November 14, 2017

In reply to by Lynn

I am getting them from Hollywood Florida. Started calling my daughter and son in law. Son n law acted like an attorney and they got so flustered with him. Capital reassurance with just a few employees
September 07, 2017
Even when you are contacted for a legitimate bill, it still helps to know your rights. In may case as a veteran, ambulance services act like scum bags frequently and flaunt the consumer debt protect laws. I had an ambulance ride in January 2012. CO A's bill was rejected by VA the next month, but neither one told me. October 2012 I received a notice of collection (note: never billed by ambulance co). I immediately wrote a request for debt verification, and included my complaint about not receiving a bill prior to collection. I never received a reply. August of 2013 I discovered via a record check that a new collection agency had put a collection note on all my consumer reports, with NO NOTICE to me. I contacted the collection agency and had to bully (all collection agencies have a nasty assumption they are always right) them for over a month, via phone and email to get them to remove everything from my consumer reports. At the same time I had also filed a lengthy complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In the end, the ambulance company never received a dime of it's $1,063 that VA owed them, and that I personally confirmed that VA was willing to pay Co A, if VA was correctly billed. K A R M A =^..^= for bad billing practices
September 07, 2017
So tired of this number 844-369-3851 calling and harassing us. It is not funny any,pre. Get them to stop and put them in jail Should not happen
September 08, 2017
I received a call from 203-514-4150 indicating there was an IRS lawsuit pending against me and that I needed to contact a lawyer and respond to file IR##### immediately.
September 08, 2017
On September 6th I received a call from 866-986-4585, and the caller claimed that they represented a law firm that was going to sue me if I didn't pay $5000 for an unpaid payday loan. I've never taken out payday loan, so I was immediately suspicious. However, they knew my name, birthdate, old address and the name of my old employer. When I tried to explain to the caller that I had no knowledge of the debt he immediately became irate and threatened that if I didn't make arrangements to pay I was going to be sued, and that they would embarrass me by serving me at my place of business. I asked for the name of the caller, business name, and mailing address, and he said that legally he didn't have to provide that information to me and then he hung up the phone. I immediately filed a complaint with the FTC. The next day my HR manager received a call from the same phone number. The caller told my HR manager that they represented a law firm that was trying to serve me and that they wanted to serve me at my residence so that they wouldn't embarrass me at work. The caller then asked for my personal contact information (home phone number and the address of my residence) so that they could avoid embarrassing me. When my HR manager said that he wouldn't provide that information the caller cursed and hung up the phone. My HR manager immediately contacted me and expressed concern for my safety. I filed another complaint with the FTC. Then today at work received 3 calls within 5 minutes, which showed up on my caller ID as from an "unknown", "unlisted", and "out of area caller." I didn't answer, and they never left a voicemail message. I'll keep filing complaints until the calls stop. It is highly annoying and extremely stressful, especially when you know for certain that you don't have any unpaid debts.
September 09, 2017
In particular, these scammers like to clam they are bill collectors for the IRS.