The jig is up for bogus debt collection and rate reduction operations

The FTC continues to crack down on fake debt collection and credit card interest rate reduction scams. We recently obtained a court order that imposes a $25.3 million judgment against the mastermind of two schemes that bilked consumers out of millions. 

In the first scheme, the FTC alleged the scammers set up U.S.-based financial accounts for a call center operation based in India.  The call centers unfairly collected payday loan debts from people who did not owe them, or owed them to someone else. The operation’s callers used threats, lies, and abusive tactics — all of which are illegal — to collect debts from people who applied for payday loans online.  Those people’s sensitive financial information later found its way into the hands of the scammers.

If you think that a caller may be a fake debt collector:

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number.
  • If a caller refuses to give you all of this information, do not pay!
  • Stop speaking with the caller.
  • Do not give personal financial or other sensitive information.
  • Contact your creditor. Read Debt Collection for a list of your rights.
  • Report the call to the FTC and your state Attorney General's office.

In the second scheme, the culprits falsely claimed that, for a fee of hundreds of dollars, they could negotiate significantly lower interest rates with consumers’ credit card issuers. The truth is, you have just as much clout with your credit card issuers as a company negotiating for you. You may get turned down for a rate reduction despite their promises.

If you’re having problems with debt or simply want some free tips to help you better manage your money, check out Money & Credit.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I GET HUNDREDS OF CALLS A DAY, FROM COMPANIES DECLARING THAT THEY JUST RECEIVED MY LOAN APPLICATION,AND WHEN I TELL THEM THEY HAVE THE WRONG
NUMBER, OR THAT I DID NOT SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR A LOAN, THEY WILL HANG UP AND CALL BACK LATER, DEMANDING PAYMENT FOR A PHANTOM LOAN THAT IS PAST DUE! THEY USE OBSCENE LANGUAGE AND THREATS. THEY ARE FOREIGN NATIONALS, AND CONTINUALLY CALL THEREAFTER. PLEASE ADVISE. THANK YOU!

I don't know why this information is not posted on the numerous website home pages that millions tune into every day - there are so many internet providers & websites that millions of people tag into every day - why can't this info be disseminated to the masses via the internet, your local tv news (for those that don't have computers - like our older population) -- this seems so elementary -- can't the FTC afford a
3 x 5 space in all the newspapers to share all this good and valuable info - again, especially for the people who don't have or can't afford a computer but do buy a daily newspaper??

I have been the recipient of many threatening calls from individuals with very heavy accents such as those of India or Pakistan. All give an American Name, such as Tom Stewart, and say I owe $500.00 or $800.00 for an online loan I never made and that they have to collect it immediately or I will be arrested in my place of employment in 3 hours and the police will drag me to the courthouse where I will be severely punished. They use many different names, one-way phoners, will not give an address but claim to be with "The Federal Debt Collection Bureau" or some other such name like "Federal Debt Defense Lawyers." I went through a year of such calls. In the end, I told an individual he could call me all he wanted; that I found his calls very amusing, that I was recording them for my own entertainment. The calls stopped. They like to say "we know everything about you, where you live, where you work, (I don't work, am retired), they read off an SSN and ask if it is mine (I say I don't know my SSN, but I don't think so). They threaten severe treatment by police, and give a deadline of an hour or two to pay off the fictitious loan.

The only place on the internet that I applied for a loan was with Western Sky loans in December 2011, or 2010, and it was declined, and I was sorry I had done that because they insisted on too much personal information which was later used against me. For all I know, Western Sky gave or sold my information to these scammers.

Western Sky and their related collection agencies were recently subject to a Federal Cease & Desist Order & lawsuit for violations of Federal and state lending law. More info available here: http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/western-sky-predatory-loan-new-york-lawsuit/ (just the first site appearing on Google).

I had a guy call and say my husband's loan was ready to pick up. We recently refinanced our house but that had been completed already. He proceeded to tell me, after I said we didn't have a loan, that I was wrong and insisted he did. Then he said I wasn't who I said I was because he had spoken to the Mrs. In question and, "She was a lovely woman" ???!!! That my husband was having an affair because I was horrible, lol. I asked to speak to his supervisor and he said, why are you crying? I said, I'm not crying, I'm mad! And he kept telling me how sorry he was for me that my husband was having an affair. I told him to never call this number again (they had been calling several times a day for a week and I finally picked up). I was really mad at the time but I laugh at it now. They never called back.

Know your'e overworked and underfunded. just keep hittin those scamming scumbag cheats. Too bad NSA cant help out with a few bogus rackets. They sure must have the budget equipment and manpower to do it!

Great comment on disiminating the info. heck with all the psa announcement time available, it will help. just be sure the message isnt ripe for sending out bogus agency phone or email addresses and ask websites to not let it (the psa) interfere with clean websites. there's already enuf crap out there.

your captcha security word spell below this is wayy too hard to read on a smaller netbook screen

I receive several Robocalls per day from caller ID "BankCard Services", "Cardmember Services", or just "Florida". The ID phone numbers change, but the message is the same, stating that they are calling from my credit card company and I qualify for much lower interest rates. I was to press a number to be transferred to a representative who would review my account and lower my rates. I was so fed up with these calls that I followed the instructions and transferred to a live person. I was hoping to get enough information out of them to file a meaningful and helpful complaint. They said the call was being recorded, so I told the rep that I was also recording this call. He said "It doesn't matter whether I record it or not". I pretended I was interested in getting a lower rate, hoping to get some useful tracking information out of him. The recording is about 5-minutes long. Initially, the rep calmly and politely tries to coax my full credit card number out of me. I said I felt uncomfortable giving that info over the phone. He said he could reassure me that he represents my Visa credit card company by giving me the first number on my card, then I could provide the entire number so he could look up my specific account and confirm the amount and date of my last payment, my current balance, etc. I told him I was looking at my card, and he told me that my visa card began with the number "4". This was interesting to me. I checked another Visa card and sure enough, it too began with the number "4". I didn't tell the rep that I checked a second card. I asked for more proof of who he was. He provided his name and ID number (obviously fake). He then became more impatient and short. I finally said perhaps his supervisor would have the authority to provide more information that would make me more comfortable. He proceeded to royally curse me out and then hung up on me.

If anything, this recording would show some of the tactics and false claims used by this company. They even dropped the names of Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and more to imply they are calling on behalf of these banks. Do you think this recording would be helpful in any way to the FTC? If so, where should I send it? I can provide a list of numbers under which this company has called. Also, how else can I share this real-life experience with consumers to show how hard these scammers will work to convince people to give up their credit card details?

Just an FYI to anyone interested. ALL Visa cards start with the number 4. All Mastercards start with the number 5. ALL Discover cards start with 6011 and ALL Amex cards start with 37. Don't ever be fooled by someone who knows this!

the 703 area code is a nest of scammers. the ftc ought to be able to shut them down - the phone companies operate by their permission.

i had been scammed by FIRST UNIVERSAL WHO THEN CHANGED THEIR NAME , I was told to send them money to get a loan modification which was never completed after they took almost $4,000. from me. I have made numerous requests for my refund, occasionally reaching a contacted person, but no refund was ever returned.

I have a company called nationwide that is having a supposed contract locator call my job, and my phone saying that he needs to verify an address or to call nationwide with a case number. they give no address and hang up on me. How can I stop the calls?

I have been in dispute over a payday loan that 2 different companies claim to own. Vaughn and Associate's S.C., and a company from Kansas called National Credit Adjusters. I can't find information on Vaughn but everything I found on NCA was BAD! who holds my note?

Probably NCA they're a large third-party debt purchasing and selling company. Being in the collection industry for a bit, I have had experience with them. They're actually pretty careful, in my experience, to ensure proper chain of title on their owned debt. To be sure, call the original creditor and confirm who was sold your file and follow the chain of title of ownership yourself. Or if you're in CA a new law effective Jan 1st requires that they supply you full chain of title info for easier confirmation by consumers.

I have a pay pal acc that I never opened out of Austin Texas it a card sent to me but I have not activated it I don't know who applied for it I had a phishing scam about 5 months ago they keep sending me checks to cash I called the police and I reported it to the internet crime unit or what ever they are called . They only got my name age and address but they tried to hack my email at aol but could not get in . I also get all these phone calls from people saying they are publisher clearing house or there Microsoft I'm on disability I checked my credit report I didn't see any thing . But I'm scared they are going to open something up in my name because I do have credit cards and I do own my home . It just a matter of time I have to keep checking my credit report .

I received disturbing calls from a firm called Pacific in Tempe, AZ. They didn't give me any address from jump street and they had locators working for them to find me. I made payment arrangements and settled a supposed debt but after 20+ days, I have yet to receive the receipt of the paid in full status. It took 7-10 days for final processing from Dec. 26th and today is Jan. 22nd. I have made several calls but the majority of the time, I am getting a voicemail stating they are unavailable. This was also concerning a prior payday loan. What is some advice on how to get my receipt which could authenticate this firm?

My husband is now getting phone calls from an OFFICER ALAN TAYLOR with the phone number of 646 571 3623 which when you call back has a female on the voicemail. Officer taylor is supposed FBI and has my hubbys social security number, date of birth, and mothers maiden name. He has called my hubby at work and home. He calls my cell phone threatening to take HER my husband (cant even get gender right) to prison for fraud. And that because I am protecting my room mate I am guilty of fraud. During this time my debit card number was stolen and used. SO we closed that account. This officer Taylor has threatened our children and told them that we were going to jail and they were going to the state. Considering the fact that we have foster children this was very scary to them. I have reported to the FTC and FBI about this but they continue to call. I would change numbers but considering they are calling us at work that wont help.

NEVER pay anything over the phone -- unless you have initiated the call. NEVER pay anything by clicking a link in an email. NEVER buy anything over the phone - unless you have initiated the call to a known vendor. NEVER respond to threats by phone, email, or even from pop up screens on your computer. Legitimate business is never done this way.

I keep getting calls from people, who's name changes constantly, saying I owe money to a pay day loan. The calls start out saying they are process servers and have papers to take me to court for deceptive banking, check fraud, and unpaid debt owed. They told me I could call the (company) # and work out a settlement. I call and they tell me a name of a company I have never heard of, won't send me a statement of charges, and won't give me a mailing address. They call my work telling them I am getting arrested. How can I get them to stop?

Watch out folks, Beware of Huddleston & Huddleston which is now calling themselves French & French LTD. They will use other names such as Riverwalk -Holdings as a collector and call from Bowling Green, Ky. and Texas. They will use several different names when they call, high pressure, and demand a check be sent electronically by phone. It is the same man every time, no accent. Riverwalk Holdings is a shaky C rating Realty Co., in Texas, per the BBB. These "so called" collectors tried to settle an account out for a lot less than what we owed although we have been paying them all along, (the bill)so keep your receipts, copy, record, to protect yourself. If in question, ask them to supply chain of title letter info for your easier confirmation, then call the BBBin that State and follow the prompts, also Attorney General, they had a fake account # and all my personal info. Remember there are people we can't trust. So Sad.

I think it's good that you got a couple of these scam artists but the problem is that there are so many more to take their place.

I am receiving telephone call treating me they gonna sue me if I don't pay $862.42 but I don't owe them the amount they are telling me. They are harrazing me everyday or everyhour. the won't stop calling. I am very upset and am getting sick about this. They on't stop calling me. Everyday they are calling me.

I am very upset right now because they won't stop calling me, harrazing and threating me, They will sue me and will take to the court. But I don't stopcalling me. I am very sick right now. I am senior citizen. I want to stop this what they are doing to me. I don't owe them anything. they want me to pay 862.42. I hope that they will stop what they are doing.

This is the most annoying thing. These people call the most harassing calls. Threating jail time (And my husband IS a cop, he knows what they are doing is illegal) but they use different names, fake phone numbers. And they call his family, his work. There was a loan we had many moons ago. It was discharged in a bankruptcy. We have talked to the company who had the loan and they say DO NOT PAY. I guess it's just some hassle. But wow I would love to stop them and terminate their business.I know its against the law to threaten jail time and I know that its against federal law to continue to go after a loan discharged on bankruptcy but they keep doing it.

I keep getting harassing calls from (646) 571-3623. Alan Taylor keeps calling my personal and work line. Something needs to be done to stop these scammers. Very annoying!

I do not understand why the US Government, with its vast resources, can not shut down such scams as the "credit card interest rate reduction" people or the purveyors of "free" medical alert systems. I have received literally hundreds of these calls for several years and I am tired of the constant interruptions. Are our government agencies that supposedly protect us from such abuses totally toothless? Or do they just not care and don't want to be bothered doing their jobs?

Today his name is Alex Williams, but he has also called under the name of Alan Taylor as someone else noted above. He calls my place of employment repeatedly I always indicated that I am someone else and give a fictitious name. I work for a state institution and tried telling him I would report him to our state attorney generals office and that he had been told he was no longer to call this number. He got threatening and told me that the call was being recorded - I said that's perfectly fine, then you are recording me telling you that you are no longer to call here. It is ridiculous!

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