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Have you ever gotten a call about a debt that isn’t yours? That’s known as a phantom debt, and today, the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office announced that they are suing two players in an alleged phantom debt scam: Hylan Asset Management and Worldwide Processing Group. It’s a complex web of made-up debt, debt sellers, brokers, buyers, and collectors – involving some players the FTC has sued before.

How did this scheme work? According to the FTC, Hylan Asset Management placed portfolios of fake debt with other debt collectors, and sold them to other brokers and collectors. The FTC says that Hylan knew the debts were phantom – in fact, many were bought from people the FTC has sued for unlawful debt collection practices.

Then, Worldwide Processing Group, a debt collection company, not only collected on these illegitimate debts, but also collected on them using illegal tactics: contacting family members, employers, and coworkers (or threatening to), and failing to give people the required notices about the debt. And, according to the FTC and the NY Attorney General’s office, the company knew about complaints from consumers that they didn’t owe the debts the company was trying to collect.

You have legal rights when it comes to debt collection – if a debt collector threatens, harasses or intimidates you, that’s illegal. Also, debt collectors have to send you a validation notice in writing, within five days of contacting you, that tells you how much money you owe, the name of the creditor, and what to do if you don’t think you owe the money. If you do not get that notice, or if you’re harassed, tell the FTC. And if you’re getting calls about debts that you think might not be yours, learn more about phantom debt collection.

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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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June 28, 2018

Bona fide Thanks

June 28, 2018
I received one of those calls once - I asked them if they were familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Gee whiz, they hung up on me.
June 28, 2018
appreciate the alerts; good to know there is the FTC looking out for us citizens, especially us seniors.
June 29, 2018
Received a similar call corncering a lender I never heard of. I said no. Beware!
Phil A.
June 28, 2018
I've gotten 2 voice mails on my cell phone over the past week from these bottom feeders; one with a man's voice, the other a woman's. They gave me a number to call, an extension, and a case number. I just ignored both of them. If the FTC is interested, I can give you all the info I have.
June 29, 2018
Thanks for catching these slime balls
July 02, 2018
Thank you for your advice and for protecting us, senior citizens.
June 30, 2018
I get all kind of calls. I stay mad. Calling me bout a student loan and I didn't even finish high school, because I started having seizures. Calling me bout my car insurance and I don't have a car.its always something.
July 02, 2018
afew months back i got a call from acollection b. they i owed for a cash loan back in 2010 that i paid off they said that was never reported so i had to pay again i even have a reciept they said it was no good,so i have paid twice. i wish i could go after someone for this.
FTC Staff
October 23, 2018

In reply to by georgia1

You can report that to the FTC at The information you give us will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

You can also report a business to your state Attorney General. You can find your Attorney General's information online, or go to the Attorney General's association at for a list.

July 07, 2018
every week i get a call from the credit card lady, sometimes twice a week.this is harassment.
July 09, 2018
I am getting calls from a robot that tells me Microsoft is closing and call a number to get my money back. fraud!!