Avoiding Debt-Relief Scams

If you’re looking for a way to manage your debt, the last thing you need is to get ripped off by a company that promises to help. According to the Federal Trade Commission, that’s what happened to people who paid hundreds of dollars each to Southeast Trust, LLC. The company contacted people through illegal robocalls and claimed it was a non-profit group that could get them credit card interest rates as low as zero percent. The FTC recently got a $2.7 million judgment against the company and banned it from making illegal robocalls and providing debt- and mortgage-relief services.

There are signs that a company that promises to help you manage your debt may not be on the up and up. Avoid any organization that:

  • charges fees before it settles your debts
  • guarantees it can make your unsecured debt go away
  • tells you it can stop all debt collection calls and lawsuits
  • won’t send you free information about its services unless you provide personal and financial information, like your credit card and bank account numbers

You can work on managing your debt by talking with a credit counseling organization. A reputable credit-counseling agency should send you free information about its services without requiring you to give details about your situation or pay any money before they provide services.

And by the way, about those robocalls? If you hear a recorded sales message and you haven't given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal, and the pitch may be a scam. Hang up. Don't press 1 to speak to a live operator or press any other number. If you do, you’ll just get more robocalls. 

Got a minute? Listen to this audiotip about robocalls:

Hang Up On Robocalls

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Hi,

This email service is great for keeping people updated on scams, what-not-to-do's and etc. However, can we be honest? Most of us are born into debt and this can be a lifelong struggle. With that said, I'm a 26 year old young professional with college loans to pay, rent & bills. So, there are times when I'm absolutely strapped for cash. This site would say "Well ask a relative, save 10% of your monthly income, so on and so forth. This is great advice, if I only have one emergency every 6 months. What does one do if you are in a real pinch and need to safely get smaller amounts of money ($100-$1000) that you can pay off in a month or installments? Where is this information at? Does it not exist? Why are there so many scams yet so little solutions for these things?

Again, thanks for the update. I thought i'd take this time to ask some questions (and let off a little mid-20's steam).

Best regards,
Christopher Anderson

for the past is i was new for internat usage but now i am aweyers i got lesson about the robocalls and identity thefts i will take care for the future still i am hurted siriously by the fraudulents sothat please excuse me which is i made a mistake unknowingly now please give me support i will do with your recommendation so help me by every thing beacuse i live in the backwsrd country i am struggle to become my selfe reliance and to feed my childrens i beg you to show me the way of development.
thunk you

If the FTC and FCC know the phone numbers the scammers are using, can they not just shut them down?

Hi, Dale, Unfortunately scammers are using internet technology that allows them to spoof phone numbers. That means the number that shows up on your caller ID isn't the real number. In fact, many scammers call from outside the U.S. but they make it seem as though they are calling from a local number.

Nicole Vincent, you are right but social engineering works both ways:-) You can make them reveal their real phone numbers by showing your interest and using fake identity for yourself! They will call you back from US numbers.

These people don't have a shame by contracting call centers in India that ignore Do-Not-Call list and violate Truth In CalleID Act. I recently got lots of live(!) calls with blank CallerID. Turned out to be Defense Lawyers, P.A. from Florida. I think they are a spin off from Hyper Group, LLC according to their hosting data with GoDaddy. Hello, Tony. P! FTC will want to talk to you!

It would be nice if FTC had some honeypot for identity thieves. I mean set up generator of fake SSN and names such that whomever tries to use it gets badly punished very first time. I keep getting calls with spoofed or blank CallerIDs and I feel like reporting FCC do-not-call complains is useless.

MY NAME IS CATHERINE ANDERSON I RECIEVIED A THREATENING PHOE CALL FROM SOME ONE AT HIGHLAND FINANCIAL GROUP CLAIMING THEY ARE WITH THE FEDERAL AGENT WITH THE STATE OF PA, THIS SO CALL COMPANY IS LOCATED IN ATLANTA, GA AND THE PHONE NUMBER 1-855-798-1893 AND STATED I WILL BE ARRESED AT MY JOB FOR CHECK FRAUD, I HAVE NOT BE ABLE TO TO HAVE A CHECKING ACCOUNT FOR OVER 7 YEARS AND WHEN I ASK WHAT THIS WAS ABOUT IT IS HAD TO DO WITH A PAYDAY LOAN--LIKE I STATED I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO TO HAVE A CHECKING ACCOUNT FOR THE PAST 7 YEARS,WHEN I ASKED WHAT PAYDAY LOAN THEY TOLD ME I DO NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT--AND THAT I OWE AROUND $3,000.00 I ASK THEM TO SEND ME PROOF IN THE MAIL, THEY TOLD ME THEY ARE UNABLE TO DO THAT AND THAT I WOULD NEED TO COUGH UP THIS MONEY OR MY FAMILY AND MYSELF AND MY JOB WOULD BE IN DANGER CAN SOMEONE LEGEALLY DO THAT AND PRETEND THEY ARE FEDERAL AGENTS AND CALL FROM ANOTHER STATE AND THREATEN YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO BE ARRESTED THANK YOU CATHERINE ANDERSON..

Are cpn numbers legal to use for attaining credit. I am asking because I am being told they are and need to know if this is legal or illegal?

I was just called by the FTC and they wanted to save me money on my credit card interest rate. Well they saved me money alright. The charge to them was supposed to be $9.95 but my bank called and they bill was $995.00. What do you think about that?

The FTC doesn't call individuals about credit card interest rates. Scammers might claim to be calling from the FTC. This sounds like another variation of an imposter scam. You may want to contact your bank's fraud department to let them know about these charges. They may issue you a new bank card number and/or refund the charges.

Does the FTC help people who were charged $20k in fees to settle debt and never even settled half of the debt. They took the money I paid in to settle debt for their fees. The company is in Texas and I'm in Illinois. I contacted the Texas Attorney General and they told me to contact Illinois. When I spoke with Illinois (Dept of Financial Regulation) they said they could help a year ago and have done nothing. Thanks

If you think you were a victim of a debt-relief scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint. Your complaint goes into an online database that it's available to civil and criminal law enforcement agencies. It's good to give as many details as possible in your complaint. If there's a law enforcement agency investigating that company, your complaint may help them.

Contact me with the privacy act

Here is more information on federal laws Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. If you are looking for the FTC's privacy policy, you can find it here.

I have spoke to what I thought were retaputable
debt considation groups online and now I receive
a email from this so call lawyer name Matt Harper threating me with a fake warrant allegeded in 48 hours if I didn't call them and I did not and the
warrant was not as I expected never excuted. My concern is they actuallyhave my social security number and email address. However obviously they don't know my bank. Their claim is that I owe some
America Pay day copany 12,000.00 I never deal with any Pay day company name America Payday advance. for years I did get loans through my bank the money was transfer into my account electronikcally and paid off through the bank on my payday. I never had the credit to ever borrow the amount 12,000 and if I did it would have been either deposited in my bank I have had for many years. They do not ever mention the name of my bank so
I need to know what to do about them having my
Social security number mainly.

If you are worried about identity theft here are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Find more information about identity theft at ftc.gov/idtheft.

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