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Haunted by Phantom Debt?

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Phantom debts – sounds a little like a ghostly Halloween prank. Unfortunately, it’s no joke. Some fake debt collectors may try deception and threats to pressure you to pay debts that you don’t owe. The FTC recently obtained a temporary restraining order in a case against debt collectors, Pinnacle Payment Services, Lisa Jeter, her partners and related companies about just these kinds of practices. The court order shuts down the operation, pending trial.

Imagine getting a phone message like this:

This is the Civil Investigations Unit. We are contacting you in regards to a complaint being filed against you, pursuant to claim and affidavit number D00D-2932, where you have been named a respondent in a court action and must appear… Please forward this information to your attorney in that the order to show cause contains a restraining order. You or  your attorney will have 24 to 48 hours to oppose this matter… Call 757-555-1234.

Who wouldn’t be spooked? The FTC has gotten almost 3,000 complaints about messages like this. 

Sometimes the collectors use fictitious names that imply they are or are affiliated with a law firm. They threaten that if you don’t pay, you could suffer serious consequences – like being sued, being arrested at work, having your bank account closed, your wages garnished, or forced to appear in court thousands of miles from home.

If you think that a caller may be a fake debt collector, ask for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice." The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If the caller refuses to give you all this information, don’t pay! Paying a fake debt collector won’t always make them go away: They may make up another debt to try to get more money from you. Don’t give or confirm any of your financial or other sensitive information, either. Phony debt collectors can use your information to commit identity theft by charging your existing credit cards, or opening new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, writing fraudulent checks, or taking out loans in your name.

Phantom debt can be scary any time. If you get a call about a debt that just doesn’t ring true, contact the FTC.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I was verbally THREATENED with immediate arrest, if I didn't pay up via credit card/debit card for a supposed "payday loan debt". The man was insulting, rude, and yelling over the phone. At which point I hung up and contacted a friend in law enforcement.

I received a phone call from Justin Pryor stating he was representing cmg group he called from 1 8883127739 stating I was refusing to pay he was sending documents to my job and that my check was being garnished I need this to stop I am willing to form a group of people to help me stop this to many people are getting scammed I am a single mom and I am not giving away free money so who's with me this has to stop

one even asked to speak to my supervisor and told her if I didn't return his call in 30 minutes a police officer would be here to arrest me. it's ridiculous.

Same here!!! These people are extremely exhausting. For the past 4 months in a row, every Wednesday, two women going by the names Lisa Jacobs, and Emma Mackenzie from Arbitration Services from 2 different states, Georgia, California claiming that there is claim against me and my SSN, pending aliigations and pre-legal matter/ They even knew the last four of my SSN, and called other members of my family, threatening court, going to my place of employment, and sending someone to my residence. Funny thing is...they have my Jurisdiction, or county of residence almost 2000 miles from where i actually live. I refuse to call them back, as I may say or reveal information that they are looking for. In fact...returning a call like that is usually proof of what they are after...Don't get tricked into calling them back. Something more serious has to be done to stop these evil people. FORM A GROUP!!

I am great full to you. Because often I have received this type of call and fall in anxiety. I do not crime and always I am against crime. but Someone telephone me and Say something wrong.
Thank you.

I was woken up this morning by a Mercantile Adjustment Bureau call which asked for me by name but would not tell me anything more until I gave them my age (and who knows what else after that...) I refused to go down that path with an unknown caller. She refused to even tell me what the nature of her company is, much less why she was calling me. After the fact I figured out they are debt collectors and in fact, called ID indicated we've gotten 3 prior call from this "toll free" caller over the last few days What's a consumer to do? Should I have given some information to convince her I was not the person she's looking for? Do privacy considerations prevent the collector from revealing the nature of the call or even identifying themselves?

No, you did the right thing not giving her any more information than you did. In answer to your questions, yes, the privacy laws do not allow discussing a personal debt with anyone other than the the debtor or his declared representative, i.e. attorney. They can, however leave a message with their name, business name and return number if you agree you know the person and will deliver the message. If the calls continue, keep a log of when, record them if you can, but do tell the caller the call may be recorded; and after a month, report them to your State Attorney General. All the instructions will be on the AG's web site. Also, file with the FCC and any consumer protection groups your state may offer.

For the past week, I have received a phone call at 8:00 A.M. every morning from a company called Leading Edge Debt Collector. The message says very important, please press 1 to speak with a representative. When I press 1 I am on hold, then I get a dial tone. There is no number given for me to return a call. Please advise me as what I can do. More than anything, it is a nuisance having this call every morning.

I have gotten these before! These people, who work in a place like that, will perish into eternal flames using their scripted tactics. THEY will threaten, and warn you that there is a WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST, in your County. They will post a LIEN ON YOUR POSSESSIONS, and will claim that they work in the LAW OFFICES OF "---". I asked them to connect me with one of the Attorney's and they then said that it's not an actual LAW FIRM, but an office BUILDING where there are Law Firms, within. These people will try to get you to pay, at that moment to "STOP PROCEEDINGS FOR YOUR ARREST", these types of False Representations are Against The Law!

Find out where the calls are coming from then call the police department in that area and give the pd the callers number.

Having had back surgery's and countless tests since 2007, my bills were paid. On Medicaire I am receiving
from the hospitals billing offices bills that are being charged 2,3 &4 times. Collection agencies that send out a Bills with no contact number or my Consumer Rights; only a PO Box.
In addition almost every incoming call is coming from scammers trying to sell me alert calls buttons. I do not have the time to address these. Comcast who carries my phone service does nothing to stop these. My credit score before all this was 812. I do not now what to do. Any suggestions

I have gotten several calls at 7 am regarding a supposed debt with the IRS the man calling is very persistent and has a very thick indian or Asian accent it is hard to understand him. The telephone number he calls from is 585-466-0174 and he says that is the hotline for his division of the Internal Revenue Service and it is a time sensitive matter to call him back immediately or to have my legal representative to call him back do not wait. I contacted the IRS and this is bogus the real IRS will contact you by mail if they have any issues with you. This guy needs to go to jail. who knows how many people fall for this.

am getting these call from the same guy.... just deleting him off of my machines..

they arrested one guy running a IRS call center scam making the same calls and threats. I had to change my number twice as they kept calling. its a scam never bother with them get a call blocker and block all their number

Credit Management, LP (?) sent a letter after my father died, pretending he owed them money. I am paying so many debts, now, trying to get his affairs in order. Luckily, I have a blanket policy never to deal with debt collectors, so I tried to contact TIME WARNER - they don't even offer service in my father's state....

I had received these calls as well, they've recently began again from the phone number 323-393-1028, I'm relieved to see this is something that many others have experienced because I know now that I'm not crazy. They are very tricky with their language and threats, don't be fooled!

Ok, I fell for this one...I have paid $100....and automatic payments are set up. Aside from cancelling the card, what else do I need to do now?

Canceling the card is a great card, you may have to close your account as well.

We received calls in the past from a man with an Indian accent. He has harrassed one of our employees. We filed a complaint and it stopped. But.....He's back! This time using profanity and making threats. We have hung up on him and he calls back numerous times, each time more profanity and threats. The employee has filed another complaint, we have advised staff to not put the calls through to the employee and to hang up. Hopefully it will stop.

I have received 2 phone calls around middle decemeber from the "dept of justice" from a man with a heavy Indian accent saying that I have commited fraud, my medical bills, and credit card fraud. This all happened after I applied for pay day loans and credit cards online. I do have my debt but not because I purposely didn't pay but because I lost my job at the time of these events that I just couldn't pay it. With the amount of debt that I have, this has never happened to me until recently. Probably over the weekend and this morning, I received an email now from a Michael Davis claiming to be a senior attorney from Holland and Hart Assoc. I looked up Holland and Hart Assoc. which the spelling on the actual website is Holland & Hart not the "and" spelled out. Saying that "I am really very sorry to say you that you are going to be legally prosecuted in the Court House within couple of days. Your SSN is put on hold by US Government" Who wouldn't get spooked by this. I know that I have never commited any crimes other than being hard on money and unable to pay like a lot of Americans which lead to bad credit. My heart almost stopped beating at the first sight of that first email. I'm planning to close that email and never ever again apply for any credit card that isn't big name or cash advances ever again. So stresfful!

I just received the exact same email. It stated I would have to pay over 11,000 dollars for court costs, attorneys fees and bail....BAIL!?!?! Then I got a phone call from the number listed on the email. 773-945-1697. Didn't answer, but i did a little research and found it was cash net USA. There are a lot of complaints out there about these people. I know for 110% fact that I do not owe them a dime. Its just a big time scam to scare you into paying a "phantom debt"

I hope they put that caller in jail. If the caller is in the U.S. you can give the police department in that area the number and that may stop the caller.

I've been getting calls like this from Western Acquisitions Group in Albion NY (Buffalo Area)that seem to be violating FDCPA rules. They are leaving process server threat messages, saying SS# flagged for fraud or suspicious activity and claiming to be law firm. They are currently using toll free numbers 877-668-3879 877-664-9642.

Just last week I got home from work and checked my voicemail and there was a message from a guy who claimed his name was Ryan Miller. He had a very thick accent. I thought it was strange that he had such an American name. The message sounded urgent. He said that he was with some kind of Legal Action Agency. I was certain it was a case of mistaken identity so I called back to straighten it out. The man then told me that I there was a warrant out for my arrest and that the authorities would be at my place of business in the next 48 hours to serve the warrant. The charge on me he said was check fraud for $179 in finance charges on a payday loan I never even applied for. I was stunned. I refused to give him my debit card # but he already had my social security # and my bank account #. I was freaked out. He began yelling at me and threatening me. He called from a Louisiana area code. And has since called several more times pretending to be other businesses. I want this guy to go down. Funny thing was that I could here a bunch of people in the background all trying to pull the same scam.

I have had the exact same call today and for weeks same mans name.

I am having the same trouble, they say they are a cash advance company and I owe them $692.They are harassing not only myself but my job and other co workers who answer the phone. They called my job 3 hours straight back to back. I am so afraid I will eventually lose my job if this does not stop.As well the people you talk to have a very thick Indian accent, they are rude,they laugh at you,it is terrible.I hope whoever these people are burn in hell.It is horrible to treat people this way.

My wife got a calling, threatening that I will be arrested and will not reach home. According to the caller I owe some sort of tax that is only applied to Pakistanis. He told his name as Michael Brown. He was speaking English with American accent and then handed phone over to an Urdu speaking guy. My sister in law has also received this kind of call. Looks like they target women folk who are at home (they call between 9 to 5). They were asking for around 1900 dollars. If they got only one person in one day , they must be making lot of money.
What was shocking is the kind of threatening language and attitude. I am posting the number they asked us to call back 202-754-8078

I received a message from "The Department of Justice" which forwarded me to RCG Litigation who forwarded me to Edison Park Associates. They had my social security, date of birth and credit card in formation, threatening to sue me in a civil suit for a credit card I've never had. The numbers they gave were 855-699-3998 and 909-456-1853. I didn't pay them obviously, but was very startled by the amount of my information they have on file. And they were able to pull my credit report from Experian, which doesn't help my level of confidence on what they will soon do with all of my information.

they stalk people to find there info they fowled me for more then a year I got there names license plates sent it to cops fbi ftc governors senators congress men they wont help me I ask them to investigate look up the license plates I got and there names they say file a repot so the people that are stalking you get your all your info it seems the ftc works with the debt collecters not agenst them

I also got a call asking me call back 2027548078 or face arrest from Federal crime enforcement. It sounds like a perfect scam.

I just got a voicemail stating I will be arrested at my work and a warrant is being issued gave me there name and the dect I need to talk to when callng back.. I did some research via internet and came up with nothing until I cam across this site.. I am on probation so this really scared me, but at the same time I have nothing wrong at all.. I listed carefully to the message serveral times and concluded it was a scam or collections from the noises in the background.. I've gotten this type calls in the past.. How do they get away with this???

I also got a call asking me call back 202 754 8078 or face arrest from Federal crime enforcement. The message was they will be sending law enforcement agent to arrent me if I do not return their call. It sounds like a perfect scam.

I have been receiving these same phone calls for a week. When I try calling back it will not go through. THey are threatening litigation. I blocked their number but they made it through again today with a different number. 1866-274-6409 and now I am trying to figure the other number. They state they are from the Law offices of celia cesar. I researched online and could not find anything with this. They do not ask for me by my name either.

In this article you can find more tips on how to handle these calls from fake debt collectors.

We got a call at our place of business looking for an employee who is Indian. Left message similar to the above claiming he was Shawn Woods and we were going to be under arrest if we didn't call back 202-754-8078 (which I'm sure would lead to making payments).

Worst accent ever, could hear the other call center guys in the background, didn't have a clue how the legal system works (never heard of a cop calling randomly and informing you you're being arrested - they usually just show up and do it).

Total waste of time.

Got a call today from someone that said they were from some kind of summons place telling me I committed fraud by not telling the credit card company I moved. The debt was from 2000. He said they were filing 2 criminal complaints against me. I called back and he wanted me to pay a settlement over the phone so I hung up. The number was 313-347-8644 it was listed to a company call allegiance telecom.

You can file a consumer complaint with the FTC at

I received over 10 calls from: 2027548078 with same threat.
Can anyone do something about this.

I received over 10 calls with same threat from 202.754.8078.
Can FTC do something about this. This is interrupting my business.

Lately I've been getting calls from Potter Scott & Associates at my place of work saying that they have papers to serve me at my work with an officer. Also have told me that I will be arrested. That charges of fraud have been placed against my social and my bank account number. They used my social and my account number over the phone. They are telling my coworkers the same if they answer the phone. They use several phone numbers. This is an actual company. I don't know how they can get away with this. I know if I harassed someone on the phone that I would get in trouble.

I have the same experience as Franklin exactly. It was even the same people. Potter Scott & Associates. They have been calling my work every day at least three times a day. They use several different numbers to call from. I think that they need to be stopped.

I have been getting these same calls claiming that I owe a payday loan ,saying i am going to be served at my place of business or my home,this is off and on for 2 years now ,so far I haven't been served or arrested as they stated,it's just agravatting,they called my wife and son also hunting me

A new debt collector, Global United Arbitration, has left messages on my answering machine for my daughter. The message implied pending litigating. I spoke to Phil Bifulco, who claimed to be the office manager. He told me that if the debt my daughter owed for a payday loan for Cashnet USA was not paid by Monday he was going to issue a warrant on her and prosecute her for felony bank fraud and theft by check. He asked me if I 'want to help her out.' He started demanding my debit or credit card information. He gave the address of his company as 3125 Walden Avenue, Depew, N.Y. 14043. The address for his LLC is his home address at 13432 North Road, Alden, N.Y. 14004.

Same here, they wanted my social security number. Said I had a pay day loan at Cash Net USA. I told them my attorney will respond.

Same here. I received a call yesterday and today, by a so called process server, who gave me a diferent number to call back each day. i called each day- and both days spoke with an Allen Klein who also claims to be the "office manager". He was extremely rude and threatening. I files a complaint with their local BBB, and contacted my local attorney general. I will also be filing a complaint with the FTC. This company is in violation of FDCPA regulations. I was advised not to conduct any financial transactions with this company as it has been reported that it is a scam. There are many consumer alerts regarding scams involving this comapny and it affiliates.

If there is a next time record the call, legally he cannot give you information regarding your daughters account.

I received a call today from Demetrius Malloy calling from PR associates 844 832 0113. He's stating that charges will be filed tomorrow morning in my county if I do not call him back at this number by a certain time. This actually happens to me every 6 months or so. No matter how many times I change my number or anything. The only difference is this time the called my sister's house and left the same message. I don't know how to stop them. It's driving me crazy.

Same thing, they keep calling my job. When I asked for them to stop calling this number- this rude women mocked me in a baby whining voice saying "don't call here with that and no they will not stop calling and hung up. Now, this guy named Micha Stone is calling my job. I filed a report with the FTC.

What about an electric company forcing you to pay on a past bill they claim belongs to you. We were forced to pay Florida Power and Light 800.00 for usage on a property that we leased and had to vacate after a few months because the owner foreclosed and the bank took it over. ^The bank should pay from the minute were we notified of the foreclosure.

While I agree with your sentiment, you should have turned off all utilities/services the instant you left the building. The power companies agreement is with you not the building owner and/or his creditors.


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