Avoiding Debt-Relief Scams

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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.

How to get free credit report

By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus.  You can get your free credit report provided by law at www.annualcreditreport.com. Watch this FTC video to learn more.

Thank you for sharing. This was very helpful

I've been trying to get by debt down for years now. Any time I make progress, I just have something else I need to fix. It'd be really nice to actually get debt relief, and finally make some progress to being debt free.

What debt relief help you?I'm so scared to even deal with them got scammed out if 250$ and then the told me they could not help me then they was still calling saying that I still ole them another 250$

I received a letter from Client Service Center Fullerton CA for Loan Offer to reduce debit. The concern I have is the letter appears to threaten it is a "FINAL" Notice as a "SECURED DOCUMENT" and if the document is not accepted facing $2,000 Fine and 5 Years in Jail under US Post Office. GIVE ME A BREAK, this outfit should be going to jail for illegally treating me. See you in court and we will see what the State of MN Attorney Generals thinks about your threat!

Any information on FreedomPlus Debt Relief? They want my banking info to finish up my debt relief.

The FTC has a list of banned debt collection companies.

Before you do business with any debt relief service, check it out with your state Attorney General and local consumer protection agency. They can tell you if there are consumer complaints on file about the company. Ask your state Attorney General if the company is required to be licensed to work in your state, and ask if the company has the license it needs.

This FTC article about coping with debt has more information about your options and what to watch for.

Global Connect (407 5847169) contacted me and said that there was a complaint against me, and I should call the number (866 2170579) to find out details. I was interested, so I called, and the (lawyer) I spoke to said it was a back due payment from American Express, and I should take their offer of $200 against a bill of $800. They have my SS# which concerned me. I asked for confirmation by email and details of the debt, which they sent. It was a simple form letter with no details, and the lawyers offices and website were non existent. Almost got me..

My Father got a Letter for Unsecured Debt Resolution and I called them Because I Handle his Acounts and have for years so I know he didn't OWE any one $$ Looked it up Shure enough A Scam!!

The loan that is due for payment can be reduced if debt companies' claims are believed to be actually real. What credit card relief presents is an opportunity for the defaulters to avail the debt settlement service by large scale players because they give you protection from undue harassment.

The debt settlement plans offered by reputed companies in their credit card relief programs are giving enough relief.

This is a first. I received a letter from a Debt Relief Center, PO Box 660675 #31711, Dallas, TX saying they're trying to reach me to renegotiate my credit card debt of $29,000. They propose a settlement of $14,500 with a monthly program payment of $435. I have to contact them by 25 August at 888-621-1411. They don't tell me what credit card carries such a balance (I only have one, and it doesn't have that kind of a balance). There is not a name of a person to deal with, only Client Negotiations Department. I have to admit, this is a new one on me. I'm used to the robocalls. Anyone else gotten a letter?

Lynn,
I just received a letter in the mail from:

Debt Relief Center
PO Box 660675 #31711
Dallas, TX, 75266-0675

stating that I owe $22,000.00. I never had a credit card with that amount. It a scam. Unless someone stole my identity and open an account. But other than that I would say it is a scam.

I got the same letter in the mail as well, states I somehow have a credit card that has a balance of $12k that they will settle for $6k...I don’t have a credit card that has that kind of max to it nor have I been using a card. These are despicable people!!! Scamming and Scaring people is a horrible evil business!

Hi Lynn,

I have received the same letter with 21K in credit card debt with 10.5K proposed settlement offer.

Letter says, For Free Consultation call (888) 621-1411

I got the same crap letter from same criminals as Lynn, in addition to Robo calls every day. I was worried, as they want you to be, so I looked it up and thankfully I know without doubt it is a scam of the worst order. Thank you everyone who puts in comments to help others.

I received a letter from a Debt Relief Center, PO Box 660675 #31711, Dallas, TX saying they're trying to reach me to renegotiate my credit card debt of $12,000. They propose a settlement of $6,000 with a monthly program payment of $240. I have to contact them by 30 August at 888-621-1411.

I dont have that kind of balance in any of my accts. Ignoring this letter after reading above comments.

I just received the same letter from Debt Relief Center. I don’t have a credit card or cards with the amounts the letter claims that I owe. Robo calls come in everyday. Thank you for the information provided here. That letter is shredded and in the trash! I hope my feedback helps others.

Just received the same letter in Nashville, TN. Debt Relief Center, PO Box 660675 #31711, Dallas, TX 75266-0675. 888-621-1411. Say I owe $17000. LOL. I'm debt free. Would love to see them busted though.

We got the same letter from same address saying we owe $16k. We are also debt free. Trashed it!

i just rcieved this letter in the mail debt relief center po box 660675...saying i owed $17k and will settlement for $8.5k.... its a freaking scams... my credits never max that much or have i using it more than 3k ...please someone need to track and arrest all those scamers......

Just received a letter from Debt Relief Center in Dallas. Like what others have said, the letter offers to settle a supposedly outstanding credit card balance for half and then provide a three year payoff for the balance, at what appears to be no interest. Looks like a scam to me.

I got the same scam letter from Debt Relief Center in Dallas PO box 660675. It also says I owe 17k and can settle for 8.5k. Looks like everyone gets the exact same letter. That's just lazy. There are easy ways to come up with specific numbers to convince people. I should start one of these scams. I could do better.

I just received a similar letter from "Debt Relief Center" same address . Why can't the Attorney General in Texas do something about this -- they are using a Texas address and PO Box. Someone must be picking up mail there.

Silver Spring, MD: I just received the same letter from Debt Relief Center, Dallas, TX, titled "Important Second Notice" to restructure $18K debt for $9K. At first I almost bit, because I had recently opened an account at a home improvement store for a remodel and charged about $18K. But I have been paying monthly on the account, so I could not imagine why I would be turned over to collection. This is a nasty scam!

Has anyone recvd offer in the mail from Patriot? But it's actually...
Timberline Financial? From
New York....
Uncertain giving banking information online wanted down small deposit.. at the end...started to get upset when I wanted one more day because of the checking acct... and said why don't you just file bankrupty than. Just didn't add my situation up with my concerns .

I just got that letter today. Jerks!!

I got the letter from Debt Relief Center in Dallas, TX. The free consultation number was different then the one above 800-595-7880. Says to call and have my credit card account numbers ready! I don’t think so!!

I received a letter from Debt relief center the phone is the same from the one above 800-595-7880, same scam... second attempt to contact me to reduce my payments... I have no debts and I always pay my credit card statement leaving no balance. How the heck do they get our information? what can we do to stop these predators??

I received a letter from the same people, they offer a proposed settlement of $7500, for a debt of $15,000 of course they don't know what they are talking about. Debt relief center of Dallas. They even attempt to intimidate me by saying this was a second notice and I mush answer by Oct 25 2018. They give the number 800-583-1366.It is more than obvious that they are scam artist using different phone numbers and not disclosing a physical address or signing their letters.

Just opened a letter from the following:
Debt Relief Center
PO Box 660675 #31711
Dallas TX 75266-0675
Contact Phone: 800-595-7880
"Immediate Response To This Second Notice Requested" [I've never received a letter from them previously.]
"Our previous attempts to contact you have been unsuccessful. This letter is being sent to you one last time before you are no longer deemed eligible for help by this office." [Again, NEVER have contacted me previously. Don't need their help.]
They say my "Est. Credit Card Balances" are $13K and are offering a "Proposed Settlement Offer" of $6,500 to be paid at $195/month for 36 months.
"Instructions:
1) Have notice ID number available.
2) Be ready to verify account balances.
3) Respond to (800)595-7880. "

Crazy way to advertise. Bet they're getting a number of calls from unsuspecting, fearful, in-debt people. Poor souls! SCAM!

We received a letter today from a Debt relief center in Phoenix, Az . Totally fake. Don’t have any credit cards. Supposedly owe $17 k with proposed $8.5 settlement. Why can’t anyone do something about it.

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