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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. With your help, we’re finding the bad guys and putting them out of business.

 

408 Comments

First Approach… (not verified)
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.
Gmatos (not verified)
August 30, 2017
Excelente información, gracias!!!
AnnoyedGSONC (not verified)
October 18, 2017

In reply to by First Approach… (not verified)

Getting these at work and at home all different numbers. I am reporting. Call back different numbers and referencing a file 1148964.
Diamondlady2013 (not verified)
July 17, 2020

In reply to by AnnoyedGSONC (not verified)

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.
joseramiro101 (not verified)
August 31, 2017
Que bueno que hagan esto porque siempre se presentan esas llamadas
cindyh471 (not verified)
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 -1533.my memory is off so I truly am not sure of this.

makguiver (not verified)
October 03, 2017
hola me estan reclamando una deuda de mi madre que fallecio hace mas de 9 años de un gavinete de abogados de nombre MEDINA CUADROS por un importe de 236.36€ y ni siquiera sabemos a que deuda se refieren quisiera saber si es legal y como lo puedo averiguar Gracias de antemano
El Famoso riki (not verified)
October 27, 2017

In reply to by makguiver (not verified)

Hola,yo soy abogado.y por ésa razón le voy a regalar algunos consejos gratuitas. Primero tienes que pedirle algunas pruebas,que demuestren que de verdad tu de ves esa cantidad de deuda.y segundo pasó,diré; y porque razón ustedes esperaron los 9 años para venir reclamar esa cantidad de dinero.aquí vivimos bajo la ley
FTC Staff
September 05, 2017

In reply to by cindyh471 (not verified)

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.

gettingharrassed (not verified)
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 (not verified)

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.

cindyh471 (not verified)
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 .
makguiver (not verified)
October 03, 2017
hola me estan reclamando una deuda de mi madre que fallecio hace mas de 9 años de un gavinete de abogados de nombre MEDINA CUADROS por un importe de 236.36€ y que lo pasaran al juzgado tenemos que llamar al tf.910867663 para que nos den la informacion, el nº de tf. que me han llamado el 640011293 me dicen que no existe en la linea de ONO ni siquiera sabemos a que deuda se refieren quisiera saber si es legal y como lo puedo averiguar Gracias de antemano les e puesto mas datos
Nashville resident (not verified)
February 20, 2018

In reply to by cindyh471 (not verified)

Fox Collection is medical debt collection
No useReynaldo… (not verified)
October 12, 2017
Hola.estoy pidiendo la cuenta general de una consulta con el médico y no me la mandan y le pregunté .cuánto me cubrió el seguro médico y tampoco me dan respuesta.
Ana (not verified)
October 30, 2017
Estoy siendo acosada desde el verano
andrealanona (not verified)
January 30, 2018
Hola nesecito saber me llaman abogados para cobrar deuda con bco ya caducada porque yo hice reclamos al bco no habia nada ni me pudieron dar nro abogado amenazan con embargar que hago
eajj1400 (not verified)
August 29, 2017
Put them out of business.
francisco (not verified)
May 25, 2018
Es la segunda vez que recibo llamada del 910867663. El primer día se hicieron pasar por abogados, y el segundo por oficina judicial. Preguntan por una persona fallecida, pero les da igual. Todo acaba en broncas, insultos y amenazas de procesos judiciales. Estoy seguro de que ni un abogado, ni un agente judicial habla así ni condiciona la apertura de un juicio a que les des un teléfono.
amber (not verified)
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.
Lídia anton (not verified)
December 19, 2019
Tambien se ve que són de digital plus vaya hijos de la grant puta
Norma (not verified)
April 13, 2020
Buena tarde... Me llaman mucho de éstos números, 8113779649; 8113707891; 8112595869; 8117303114; 8121565154; 8122544077; 8122574956... De inmediato se escucha una grabación dónde me dice en un tono de voz diplomatico, y que de acuerdo a ña ley debo pagar, o sino me visitarán a lo domicilio, o tendré que pagar una multa o se le condenará por complicidad o me quitarán mis bienes materiales... Esperamos a que llegaran a domicilio, cosa que aún no han hecho, llevo así 3 semanas y nada. Y la otra situación no debo nada, no me agradan las deudas... Y la otra que marcara a éste número 5541721868... Situación quenno hice... Ya bloqueé los números. Qué siguieren?
KennyMac (not verified)
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 (not verified)
January 03, 2018

In reply to by KennyMac (not verified)

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.
Cbaer (not verified)
March 11, 2019

In reply to by KennyMac (not verified)

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
No use a ecció… (not verified)
May 23, 2020
A un familiar mio tambien le han mandado un correo electrónico que debe dinero atajo de falsantes que se dedican a estafar a la gente
drpjss (not verified)
September 05, 2017

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

AABBNO (not verified)
September 24, 2020
ESTOY SIENDO ACOSADA POR ESE NUMERO DICEN QUE ME ESTAN VIGILANDO EN MI TRABAJO Y MANDAN ALERTAS A MI CELULAR AL PARECER UNA TARJETA QUE MI EX ESPOSO NO PAGO. NO SE SI EN CONDUSEF PROCEDE A DENUNCIAR ESE ACOSO??
FYI (not verified)
September 11, 2017

In reply to by drpjss (not verified)

Those numbers are Verizon numbers. I mean they are calling from a phone number given out by Verizon.
Confused (not verified)
September 22, 2021

In reply to by FYI (not verified)

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??
trofa5@ (not verified)
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@ (not verified)

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.

comment (not verified)
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.
SunnyCA2017 (not verified)
September 13, 2017

In reply to by comment (not verified)

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.
backwards (not verified)
August 30, 2017
stop calling me from 844 369 3851. scammer alert
Chrismikemom (not verified)
August 30, 2017
Receiving numerous robot phone calls from 580-289-2502 regarding an IRS audit and lawsuit.
Em100699 (not verified)
September 20, 2021
A mí me llaman uno supuestos cobradores de una deuda de 130 euros de Cofidis, la cual ya había pagado pero estos dicen que no(los abogados) al igual que Cofidis, no sé qué hacer.
Frazzled (not verified)
January 10, 2018

In reply to by Chrismikemom (not verified)

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 (not verified)
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 (not verified)
April 17, 2019

In reply to by Disgusted in CA (not verified)

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?
RwjKnowsStuff (not verified)
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.
Alan (not verified)
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.
rob1dog1 (not verified)
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.
Anynomus (not verified)
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

JustMe (not verified)
December 05, 2017

In reply to by Anynomus (not verified)

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.
furious (not verified)
January 29, 2018

In reply to by Anynomus (not verified)

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,
Buddy (not verified)
March 12, 2018

In reply to by Anynomus (not verified)

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.
LLaux54 (not verified)
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?