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Getting a call about a debt you don’t owe – or even recognize – can be annoying. It can be downright scary when the caller claims to be a lawyer and threatens legal action if you don’t pay.

Such are the ploys of phantom debt collectors: lies, harassment, intimidation and threats.

Today, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Global Asset Financial Services Group (GAFS) and fifteen related defendants for operating a fake debt collection scheme. The FTC’s complaint says that GAFS employees claimed to be lawyers or affiliated with law firms. In truth, they were not lawyers and had no authority to collect debts.

The fraudulent scheme bilked millions of dollars from consumers for debts they did not owe. At the FTC’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted the operation and frozen its assets. This action is part of the FTC’s continuing crackdown on abusive and phantom debt collectors.

Don’t let debt collectors – real or phony – scare you. Know your legal rights, so you can spot when something isn’t right. By law, debt collectors have to send you a validation notice in writing, within five days of contacting you. If they don’t, that’s a red flag. And if a debt collector threatens, harasses or intimidates you to pay a debt, that’s illegal, too.

If you, or someone you know, has gotten a suspicious debt collection call, report it to the FTC. We’ve stopped a lot of bad debt collectors. Help us stop more.



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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.

February 08, 2019
DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! Do not fall for these scams. I have had to deal with many of these scams over the years and I go through several steps from not responding and filing complaints to local agencies such as Dept of Business Oversight in California to the federal level; I have received responses and actual calls tro give information on these scammers.
FTC Staff
February 08, 2019

In reply to by L

Thank you for reporting the calls and filing complaints.

When you report to the FTC at, the information goes into a secure database. The FTC and other law enforcement agencies across the country use the information for investigations.

February 08, 2019
So why wernt all the victims, including the ones that were harrassed hourly with their fake phone calls being notified and compensated? The law is $500 per call correct? Enforce it!
February 08, 2019
I contact you a lot with scammers demanding money or their tactics to get money and after 3 years informed them on my voicemail that they will be reported to the FTC. One is just so brazen , he does not care. Why??? he left a voicemail back that he does not like my tone and I owe them money. I blocked their calls so they now call with unknown caller. I can not believe with our technology that they can not be stopped.
FTC Staff
February 08, 2019

In reply to by janet

Thank you for reporting to the FTC and providing information that helps with investigations.

February 08, 2019
Thank you for the alerts!
get 'em guys
February 08, 2019
so glad you stop this one. get the rest of them and thanks
February 08, 2019
Thanks Guys / Ladies ! Great Job ~
Being harrasse…
February 08, 2019
I pay for my phone service, and i am sick of paying to be harrassed. It should be illegal for anyone to call me on my phone to sell me something or ask for donations. Please stop the madness, make it illegal.
February 11, 2019

In reply to by Being harrasse…

It is already illegal for scammers to call any cell phone or number that is on the Do Not Call List. But the laws are not enforced so the scammers ignore the laws and so *50%* of all calls now made are junk calls. It's the number one complaint to the feds. It's truly a shame.
February 14, 2019

In reply to by Watson

I answered a stupid online survey for an aldi card and the first time it said I had to pick one of the 3 products to get it which was misleading so I did and then it brought me to another screen with one of 3 more and so day I have 23 calls from people all over the country there us no explanation except they SOLD MY PERSONAL INFORMATION. NOW I CANT EVEN HAVE MY RINGER ON MY PHONE .
February 08, 2019
Whistle great arsenal! The onslaught of repetitive zombie debt collectors and/or other scams is robbing my precious time. To ward off these time stealers I now employ a loud whistle blow rather than "hello". I'm fed up wasting my time whistle deters repeat calls. Focusing on emails now ie "silent treatment" not sure of approach yet. KUDO's FTC for your outstanding actions and support in stopping this illegal onslaught!!!
February 08, 2019
I get so many calls daily and I block calls but they call on another number. I don't answer but they are annoying. How do they keep calling.
February 25, 2021

In reply to by dink

I wish someone would answer this question. I asked it elsewhere reply. How is portfolio recovery coming up with a different number every time I block them? It's been going on for months. Where are they getting these numbers? It's got to be at least 50 now I swear
February 08, 2019
thanks for the info on this one I will be saving this info and show others what to look out for.
February 08, 2019
These scammers have access to a lot of your personal information and are very convincing. Along with the easy stuff such as your address they have access to your family members and other personal information.
February 08, 2019

In reply to by Bilbuz

I think those sites that will give someone your personal information including who your family members are should be illegal! But how do they get that info?? Just thought of Facebook and sites that you can list family members. Think I'll take all mine off, but they already have that info anyway don't they?
February 08, 2019
Scammers work hard to steal your money. I almost fell for a scam when I looked into commodity trading once decades ago. The soft sell became a hard sell when I became reluctant to invest my money. Prefilled forms, a courier to come pick up my check, all made me suspicious. Then the calls insulted my intelligence for not going ahead and investing. These people use all the tricks. Beware.
Stella Blue
February 12, 2019
These phony calls are rampant. The tech support calls. The IRS calls. Social Security calls. It never ends. I make a practice of reporting them because I know that vulnerable people ( especially seniors) fall for them a lot!
February 08, 2019
Go after Another PORTFOLIO RECOVERY. They are calling from massive amount of phone numbers and area codes.
Jmanly18 Don't…
June 17, 2020

In reply to by Andrew

I receive at least 5 calls a day from different numbers from them!
June 28, 2020

In reply to by Andrew

They've been harassing me off and on for 15 years! MULTIPLE times a day. So annoying.
February 08, 2019
I received 3 phone calls from a number from Waterloo New York. The gentleman had an accent so I really did not understand his name, but he clearly stated he worked with the government. He claimed that he was calling on behalf that I was awarded a $9000.00 grant. The reason he claims was because I paid my bills on time and didn't have any criminal activities this past year. He then said I had two options to receive payment. Option 1 was through western union or direct deposit. I told him western union would be best and he gave me a # and comfermation pin. I was told to call the number immediately after hanging up. I had a bad feely so I googled the number and found that it was a scam. Ten minutes later the same gentleman called back and asked why if I had already called the #. I told him no and that this was a scam. He assured me this was no scam and I told him that the government would have notified me through the mail in a secured envelope. He tried to explain why they cannot send it through the mail and I simply told him no thank you. He then told me that my grant was canceled and I told him thank you.
February 08, 2019
I’ve had a few of these calls myself and when you say that you want to research the situation and get back to them they get very persistent and demanding. I had to end the call a couple times then somebody else tries to call one person actually wanted me to confirm my ZIP Code which I refuse to do and then he hung up. My son has been abused as well buy these calls with the same type format that they were a lawyer. Trying to scare him and put them into a duress state of mind when he didn’t even know what it was about. My son is been traumatized so he is a disabled adult and I have as well so it is difficult when you’re a senior and disabled due to trauma when you get a call like this it actually affects you more than you normally would have been affected. Thank you for stopping some of this I have save some of the phone numbers maybe I’ll try to get them to you as well
February 08, 2019
The "Do not call" registration doesn't work at all. Change it to the "Call me" registration: I would have to register my number if it was ok for telemarketers to call me. Otherwise, every telemarketer call would be illegal and subject to federal penalty.
February 08, 2019
Thank you for your alert.
February 09, 2019
We eliminated 98% of scam & telemarketer calls by buying an inexpensive telephone with answering machine. Nearly all the unwanted callers hang up as soon as the machine kicks in. And the couple that do leave a message ('You've got great credit') I report to the Do Not Call registry. Scammers don't get the chance to even try to get my personal information. Maybe a $50 investment in a phone might be a little too much for some people, but loosing their life savings is even more expensive.
February 09, 2019
I have directed a Florida computer club with nearly 200 elderly members for 17 years. Seven years ago when one of my members was robbed of $40,000 on a lottery scam we declared "war" on hackers and scammers. At monthly meetings I include updates of the current rip-offs thanks to FTC and other gov't. agencies. In the seven years we have reduced our incidents to as low as 2017-3 for less than $800 total , 2018-2 for less than $500 and we are gunning for 2019 - $000.
FTC Staff
February 11, 2019

In reply to by Buddybanks

Buddybanks,  Kudos to you and the computer club members for being informed and avoiding hackers and scammers. It's great to hear that you're using FTC tips and information.

You can order free print material for the club from The material is free, and the shipping is free too. If you have questions, write to Best wishes for hitting your $000 goal in 2019.

Frequent Flyer
February 11, 2019
Thank you once again CFPB. If this the future, I keep far away from anything ( debt collection agencies, debt consolidation companies etc. Most especially Sweepstakes offers with the word GLOBAL in the name!!! They seem to have their hand in every scam around. Just a suggestion-
February 10, 2019
I got scammed out of 3K by some guy parading as a private lender. I had to give them money for application fees so they said then the night before before the closing on the property they called and said in order to close tomorrow id have to wire them another 8K for loan insurance fees. My closing agent realized then that he was a fraud and i printed out all of my emails back and forth with these evil beings. Glad I did as then they pretended to be the FBI contacting me to help me with a group of fraudsters one of which they had in custody. When i insisted on an address of a contact point they of course failed to respond and then they hacked my computer and deleted every email btw myself and them. Good thing i printed it out. Now not sure what to do with it. I registered a claim with FTC but never heard back. One of my friends told me to go to my local FBI but they likely wont care that i got scammed. Ugh. You all are correct they are everywhere acting as insurance companies, lenders, etc. What little money hard working folks are able to earn they are around EVERY corner trying to steal it! Tech has made so many more problems than ever!!
February 11, 2019
I’ve been forced to leave my phone on permanent do-not-disturb so that it only rings for people in my contacts. If it’s an emergency, they’ll leave a message.
February 11, 2019
Thank you for supporting the "little guys" with your service!
Fed Up
February 11, 2019
I was harassed by one today. Gave me the name of a law firm that doesn’t exist.
February 12, 2019
Call from 512-564-8526 bot. Threatens legal action. I call back and the number is disconnected. Why would they leave a number to call back?
September 04, 2020
I received a letter in mailed on 9th of February from a Pacific Legal Group out of Huntington Beach, CA with a 1-888-203-8386, complaining that a "civil lawsuit" was filed by Advance America stating that I owe $1,060.07 for a payday advance loan along with NSF Fraud. Letter stated if I do not pay the full amount within a certain date, they add will immediately served a court summon to appear in circuit court by my local Sherriff's office . The letter also contain Cc: to my County Municipal Court which supposed to filed on Feb 1, 2019 by a M. Barnes. When I received this letter I immediately called Advance America and spoke with someone about this letter and they asked for my name and social security number to look up to see if I have or had a loan with them, Advance America responded that I never had a loan with them. They mention this is a scam. I also contacted my lawyer about this letter and he stated this letter is scam also, because there are things that is not legit in the letter, letter stated "circuit court" and "Municipal Court" where I live our County doesn't have a circuit court nor a Municipal Court. I have contacted my county courthouse and there is no court filed with my name or anything that is affiliated with this letter. Then on 15th of February I received a text message from them stating "After a recent case management conference regarding your case, we are extending you an immediate option to settle your case out-of-court for a onetime payment of $295.00", but the dead line is for a week, text continue "Contact us anytime to make your payment over the phone at 1-888-273-2828 or you can make your payment at www. pacificlegal. ." I was advised by both Advance America and my Lawyer that do not make no payment or give any personal information out to them.
Don't useLA yo…
February 26, 2019
Is there a way to stop skip-trace debt collectors from calling relatives? Midland Credit Management has called my adult daughter asking for my son. They have called me at least twice a day for months, but as caller i.d. identifies their number as Spam, or they block their number and it shows as Unknown Caller, i haven't answered. Should i answer and tell them to stop calling? Is skip-trace calling illegal?
FTC Staff
June 06, 2019

In reply to by Don't useLA yo…

A debt collector can contact other people to find out the address, home phone number, and work place of a person who owes the debt, but usually can’t contact them more than once. This FTC article about debt collection has more information about your rights related to debt collection and debt collectors.

Janet Lovingston
May 03, 2019
How do you convince your family members that these people are scammers? Calling and posing as process servers saying they are trying to locate you, calling your family saying they are coming to their house to locate you. Won’t tell me the name of their company, or even who their client is. Just saying they have a “pending judgement “ ready to be filed with my county. Sometimes they say they are calling from the county pre-trial division and need to make sure I’m available at a certain time so they can deliver the notice. They always say things like “We can put a stop to these proceedings with a payment arrangement, let me see if I can get the attorney on the phone” moments later, the attorney has agreed to hold the case as long as I make a good faith payment of $100 (which I did) and set up payments for the rest. So I ask “what happens if I don’t pay?” The response? We will keep calling your job and your family members until we locate you. I said...I’ve lived at the same address for 9 years. Not that hard to find me. How can you report them if you don’t know who they are or where they are located? Only a 800-number and case number given. At my wits end with these people. And they just keep passing me around!!
July 05, 2019
I am having problems with a company named Mediation Account Center located in Florida. They are attempting to collect on a debt that their information is a phantom debt, have used same comments on more than 50 people. Using same ending account number on all these people including me. Are harassing and threatening me. How do I report this?
FTC Staff
November 13, 2019

In reply to by Lizzy

You can report problems to the FTC at

August 19, 2019
My elderly and disabled mom keeps getting harassing calls from Hale Lawfirm in the Los Angeles area, phone 877-526-6926 From one call, they claim that she owes $4000 to Bank of America from 2003 in Washington and that they will serve her and take her to court unless she agrees to pay them. She gets this call about once a week. From the same number, they tell her that the debt is from Wells Fargo although all the other info and the threats are the same. I turned them in at the fraud/scam alert section at the BBB. It's sad to know that there are so many unscrupulous people who prey on the elderly and disabled. Thankfully my mom is not that gullible or stupid.
November 13, 2019
Ive been a victim of many scammers. Even though I’ve only talked to one once and didn’t release any info on myself. These phone calls leaving just a name and number and saying I had to call ASAP when I looked them up it leads to a Hodgkiss Debt Collector. I have no late payments or unpaid debt and just got my credit report so I believed it was a scam. There were 5 reviews and all stated was a scam trying to collect on fake debt or some one else’s debt. My husband even went to the police one time and they stated unless someone sends a certified notice in the mail ignore it. The fact I hat it made us question are selves and how it sometimes those calls your fist instinct is to question yourself is sickening. For the people who have lost thousands of dollars my heart goes out to them.
February 19, 2020
Better go after them again just got a call today 02/19/2020 from a debt from 10 years ago that was settled Please FTC Shut these people down
June 14, 2020
Please stop Samuel Johnson who texted my phone as an unknown lawyer representing no named company. Tel no 347-586-0494. When this tel no was googled, many others noted the same Samuel Johnson threatening them over and over on their job!! Thanks for your help. Marilyn Gilbert 865-415-9153
July 14, 2020
I need help. I just received a dept collection letter for QVC which I’ve never bought anything from. It was dated June 8th but it’s passed 30 days to ask for the proof. What would be my next steps to fight this fake collection debt. I checked my credit report and saw no reports.
September 04, 2020
I started getting calls out of the blue from Keystone Wealth Management saying that I defaulted on a payday loan from 2011!! I fell for it at first because they said that if I didn’t pay or make payment arrangements they were going to have a warrant issued for my arrest. Who wants that? So stupidly I made payment arrangements with them and made a payment. Luckily I did some research afterwards and realized it was a scam. I disputed the charge with my bank and got my money back. Also cancelled my debit card. Then they have the balls to call me and ask why my payment didn’t go through! I told the person I wasn’t going to pay for a debt that I didn’t owe, and she said she was going to push through for the warrant. I told her go ahead. Good luck with that since they don’t even have my correct social security number. And she hung up on me.