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Phantom debts and fake collection notices

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Imagine getting an official-looking letter — with a seal, signed by a judge — that says you owe a lot of money for an unpaid payday loan. Awfully intimidating, right? Especially if it included your correct name, address, and maybe even your Social Security number.

In a new twist on an old scam, criminals are impersonating law firms, judges, and court officials. They send out scary letters and make threatening phone calls about phantom debts to try to convince people to send them money.

So, what should you do if you get one of these nastygrams? No matter how convincing a letter or phone call seems, check it out. Look up the real number for the government agency, office, or employee (yes, even judges) and get the real story. It’s likely to be a scam.

Be suspicious if anyone — no matter who they say they are — asks you to wire money, or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay back the debt. There’s no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to send money that way.

Curious about other imposter scams? Check out some of our previous scams alerts. And if you haven’t already, sign up to get new scam alerts by email.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Thanks for the heads up!

Fortunately I know where these phantom debt notices are coming from. I discovered that these are remnants of debts from ID theft.

I've been contacted and was threats were made on my voice mail. I had given my bank information until I tried calling the company back and was not able to get through to a live person. I searched the web and found many complaints. Since the rep stated I needed to settle a debt from 2007 and when asking for original lender I was told they did not have that information. Should I mail a certified letter? I cant afford to lose my job and/or pay court fees.

Dont worry its a scam.
Don't buy into that crap
You will only be served by a constable in your area and you will be notified many times before that by the creditor or legitimate collection agency.
look up fair debt collection practices act fdcpa, these calls clearly violate most if not all of those laws

Not only do I recommend that you not fall for their intimidation tactics or pay them one dime--if you gave them ANY bank or credit card information at all, you need to monitor your statements carefully and frequently, keep track of your purchases so you can spot any unauthorized transactions because there's a good chance that they WILL debit your accounts, and keep draining your accounts until you're broke. DON'T LET THEM INTIMIDATE YOU!

Block the number on your phone and notify the poice dept. This is a scam. If they start calling family or friends they need to block the number.I was getting these calls and started blowing a whistle in the phone when I answered the phone they finally quit calling me.

Hey I got one of these calls today and I freaked out because the lady would not tell me why she was calling. When I answered my phone she goes hello is this (my name) and I'm like yes who's is this what are you calling for? And she asks me is your adress (my adress)? And I'm still questioning her like who is this what do you want. And she tells me I can't tell you until you confirm your social security number and then she goes is this the last 4 digits of your social security and that's when I snap and start yelling and then she told me to hold on so I hung up. I'm afraid that this person tapped into my phone or my bank account. I don't know what to do. Please help.

I have also received this called back. When the lady answered I told her she is on a recorded line. She hung up fast and will not answer again!!!!

You need to contact your bank immediately. There is no telling how much money they will take from you and if you gave them the information and authorization to take it there may not be much they can do unless you contact them before the money comes out.

You said you "GAVE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION!"
You best be contacting your bank and letting them know. You may have to go so far as to change your account numbers to stop them from doing bogus billing. Call or go to your local branch and take to the manager. The more they are involved the safer you and your account will be.

Back in 2012 I had a call at work from a group that claimed I owe money to a payday loan I never got. Because the payday loan co they claimed I owe do not accept applications from the state of GA. They said I owed almost $500 which was already paid to Pacifica Credit already. They called again today with the same number with a change of the last 4 digits of the phone. They are trying it again if you get a call from a 919-399 out of Durham, NC with the last 4 digits 5998 or 9005, its a scam hang up.

SCAM: They say they are the IRS. Yesterday they called 5 times. First return call I was given name of Mr. Peterson with thick Indian (India) accent and he said they checked my husbands taxes and he "lied" on some things and had warrant for his arrest. My husband returned the call and after 10 minuets on hold was hung up on.It sounds like a large call center as you could hear others in background. Today they called 3 times. I returned their call , was given the name Jack Thomas a paralegal and he too had thick Indian (India) accent ,I tried explaining they need to speak with our bankruptcy attorney and he hung up on me. So I called back. Again someone with thick Indian (India) accent answers the phone and I ask for a name and he starts with Charles, and someone in the background , which I heard very clearly he said just hang up , Then the man said my name is Charles F**k-off and hung up. I called back again and they just hung up. I tried one more time and got voicemail box 2040. I told the in voicemail we are in bankruptcy and when our attorney called them last evening, they hung up on them. So we were instructed by our attorney to document every call, and tell tem we have called Washington County Sheriff, The Federal Trade Commission and the bankruptcy court.

Got two calls today from someone claiming to be SAMMY PARKER from the IRS, stating that I must return his call immediately (RIGHT)! The phone number is 415-251-3754 Novato, CA....very thick Indian accent and rushed throught information that I must return his call before an legal action is taken against me....have a good day was his closing remark. Bogus SPAM

I am from Russia.Going stream spam sms to my teephone number named from Sberbank of Russia.What to do to stop that stream?

I receive these calls daily threatening seizure of property, lawsuit and arrest at work, home or school if i dont pay for a fake payday loan that i never took out. The numbers they call from are:317-2000+-3265 and 701-491-7809 and other numbers that a google search will show you it is national attorney network.. a collection of third party attorneys who buy old debts for collections.. These calls are scams in a back end office and employees are ex cons and current criminals with the highest level of education being 9th grade.
Just record the calls, play along, obtain all the info, retain a pro bono atty, file an ag and ftc complain and sue the company.. thats how you can win

Hello, this exact thing happened to me. I am freaking out and crying my eyes out because I am so paranoid of being arrested or going into court. After all I am only 18 years old. Are you sure they are not real? Have you ever been arrested since then? I am so scared. Did you try suing them? did it work?

You can't possibly be scared of this...

its a scam plain and simple. I am having the same problem. I you do get a hold of someone. Only be cautious if your social is in their possession. If so, call it in and report to the ESA (social security office) that your personal info had been compromised...and monitor everything. thats all you can do.

This guy name Deputy Officer Wilson has been calling me all day. He said that I owe on some loan but couldn't tell me where it was coming from! He knew where I banked at and my last 4 if my social security number. He said I owe on this loan and they had tried taking it out of my account but they couldn't. I called my bank and everything and they didn't see the transaction. He even told me that Texas General Attorney was gonna file through with it if I didn't pay something today! He said that the police officers will come pick me up and I can spend up to 35 days in jail. He even said that they sent all the information I need through via mail and I asked him why haven't I recieved a letter. He is bc it's confidential and he is willing to accept money from my fiancé for the transaction. I just don't get it. In alittle scare but hey if I don't got it I don't got it!!

There is a new system used by fraudulent scammers. Your payment on line is denied several times. These payments denied are now submitted as genuine payments on your Credit Cards. You are debited for any amount the scammers decide.

Wow! A mo ago I got a phone call saying he was from a law firm saying i owed over a thousand dollars for a payday loan he wanted me to purchase a recharable card and send1/2 the money i owe then my folowing payday send the rest thank God I told my family I dont remember taking out a loan let them take me to court. Bye bye scammer lol

I have been called b the same person, saying I need to pay off a bill for mike. the phone numbers the call from are 321-473-9914, 202-214-2808, 202-200-5414

I received a call from ph# I didn't know and they left me a message which was an automated on saying they have been trying to make numerous attempts to contact me but this is the 1st message I'm getting and that they have no other options to file suite against me. I have never received anything in the mail and I don't want to call them back because I think it is a scam

Please be cautious of a caller identifying with Zimmerman Young and Associates out of Buffalo, New York. It's a scam!

I got that call yesterday. Someone left me a message from 'clerk of court' advising me to contact Zimmerman and Young. I was worried so I called. A guy claimed he was a paralegal but had no info to provide about this so called debt, but he did tell me my address and social, which I did not confirm.
I asked him to send me something in writing, and he just told me to wait for a summons to court.. Whatever.

KMCC did you ever receive a summons?

I have had similar situation from PDL recovery supposed to be out of Amherst Ny claiming to be collecting a debt for check and go. I do have a debt wth them which i had reported to them that but they continue to call multiple times a day. They are not calling my supervisors at home!

Green, daily & assoc......fraud. Be careful they will call from an unknown number and claim to be from the sheriffs dept & are going to arrest you.

I just got a call today and insisted on calling back to demand what this was about. He claimed to be Paul Rosenberg with Department of Legal Services. First he said he was an investigator, then he was a paralegal. His number is 716-247-5131. He said there were several complaints against my name and SS#. I refused to give him info until I knew why he was calling. He hung up and said "Good luck in court". Obvious scam that I am reporting.

I have received two different emails from collection companies. Saying I owe them this amount of money. And they are holding my SSN by the US Government. And I had one company put money into my checking account. I've never authorized this. So am I now responsible for this or not.

I dont think anyone in Dallas TX dealing those kind of calls... but good to know. Like to know if anyone in the latino community has been affected by this kind of scam.

I answer the phone with hello. Whey they ask an obvious Yes answer question, Is this YourPal? I answer, "speaking". I then say this number is on the national do not call list and your number has been recorded for reporting to the FTC. Have a nice day, good bye. Never say Yes or No. You are being recorded. You have the power, you can hang up any time. Don't give them any information.

I just got a call from a Texas number 972-348-9148 claiming someone has filed legal action against me and offered no further information. The lady wanted me to write down a file number and different telephone number to call. I refused and asked her where she was located and she would not answer the question. She then stated someone will serve me with papers, and hung up on me. 100% confident this was a scam.

What happened with that? I got the same call today! I asked who was filing against me and she said she didn't know. Then she said I could pick up the papers or be served. I hung up. I have no idea who it was.

Same here I called the other number they said I had 2hours the guy jeremy said he was from from jp associates out of california said I owed a bill from 11yrs ago from verizon I said well where's the bill he said it was paid from tlco communications and now I owe jp the money I started out at 268 now its up to 986 I said well what happens if I don't pay it he said I would go to court in cali if I lose the case I go to jail he talked to their legal team and they said to settle out of court I could send them 149 now on a loadable card I said how bout a money order he said no so I called verizon they don't use them as outside parties to collectdebts so be careful its a very scary place anymore

I got this call last week. I had a voice mail stating that I was scheduled for deliver of legal papers from Sedgwick County and if I was not teachable at home they would come to my work where my supervisor would have to be there to witness. I called them back and left a voice mail.

This morning they (capital delivery service) called me back. I told the lady on the phone I needed to know who was trying to send papers to me and why. She said she's just a call center but the papers were coming from HC & Associates. I asked for HC's contact info and she put me on hold. (I Googled them while I waited and they're an insurance firm out of of Georgia)

The girl came back on the line and said that by coincidence she had someone from HC on hold on another line and she could connect me. A man came on the line and I told him that I had never heard of his company and I suspected a scam. He told me that he represented Ace Cash Express and that he had been sending me letters since October and that if I had handled my debt with them we wouldn't be talking. (I don't have a debt with them) He said they were charging me with bank fraud and malicious intent to defraud this week, and would I be willing to settle. I says yes but I am still suspicious of a scam so I would deal with Ace directly. The guy was belligerent the whole time but he got worse when I said that; he started yelling about how they won't take my money now, I should have paid them a year ago. He actually hung up on me after the third time I accused him of being a scammer. A legit debt collector would have tried harder to reassure me and to get my personal info.

I hope no one falls for this but they had a well oiled system with the pole professional girl and the blustery pushy guy, I'm sure many people have given them money

Got a call from Worldwide Requisitions accusing me of check or bank fraud. When I called them they told me I had to make arrangements to pay a debt or I would be served with a subpoena from court. I asked them to fax me information that gives me proof of their allegations. They said they can not send anything and since I would not make any arrangements over the phone I would be served, then they hung up on me. I sent a Verification of Debt Owed Letter to their address with tracking and has be undelivered which at the moment I do not know why. They have gave me a false address and told me also they do not receive mail at the address I believe is theirs. Now I am trying to get a PO box from them but am not sure it's is legit. I have made a report to the BBB, Federal Trade Commission, and The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with copies of my letter to in hopes this will make them either send proof of the debt or stop them from calling.

Its a scam they called me too. They told me I committed bank fraud and had till the end of the day to pay them or they would contact my employer. That was the first call then the second call they told me I haven't paid on a payday loan (never had one) then the told me the maybe someone else got a loan in my name and that I still needed to pay them. Whatever Tarts get your story straight before you try to steal money from people. Don't give them any info there thefts looking for easy money. Apparently they have know education and cant get a real job. I'm so angry I decided to do a little search on the internet and found the phone number that they keep calling me from(214-504-2986) is linked to an escort service just google the phone number and scroll through the second or third page you will find different girls with the same number looking for a good time. I think there located in Dallas TX I did a phone reverse look up and google mapped the location it looks like a ware house off of W Mockingbird LN and Halifax ST. These people must think that everyone is stupid.

Yes, I got the same call. They gave me an address of 8411 Preston Road Suite 238. I asked them for a case #, and the managers name. Would not give me information. They got pissed and hung up. Also, they wanted my ssn and address and my employers name. When I would not give them any information. They hung up. The Third time I called them back I told them I was going to report them and my attorney would contact them..I was put on hold then cut off.

Pretty much the same call. my wife received a call from this number 210-202-0282, a lady saying shes from a federal agency and that she owed on a payday loan in the amount of $8,000.00 from carjar, that she had until 7pm to pay or she would be arrested for fraud. they had the last 4 of her SS# and old mailing address. they told her if she would pay half they could stop the warrant from being processed. i've called the number back and it goes to voice mail for a KC snow a paralegal according to her. my wife has never taken out a payday loan nor a loan online! cash jar has no record of a loan, and cash jar only provides loans from $300 -$1250. not $8000.00 that they are claims she did! the number listed is some where in Texas!

Same exact thing with me - and same number 214-504-2986. What a bunch of jerks!

Got a call from the same number. Said I was being investigated for check (mumble mumble) fraud and they were calling my employer "to verify employment for permission to set a court date". LOL. They can't even come up with an effective script. I've got the saved voicemail; going to check with my daughter who works for the county DA and see what I can pursue.

I got the phone call today saying I committed bank fraud and I have until the end of the work day to call otherwise papers will be drawn up for court. Not only did I receive this call today BUT just last week my parents received a call looking for me harassing them too. I checked my credit report and all I have on it are past hospital bills. This is creepy and getting out of control. Especially after seeing all of these other messages in regards to the same situation.

I received a call from a woman who stated that she had my file on her desk because of a payday loan that I never repaid. She pretended to be with some law firm. She said that they had reviewed my bank account and believed this to be incorrect, but needed to verify some information. I told her it was incorrect and anymore correspondence needed to be done by mail. I have not received anything.

I had a call like that recently. She said she has my case number and I will be picked up. Is the call coming from Missouri?

I have received many calls from a company called LEGAL DEBT PROCESSING SERVICES that I would be served with court papers or go to jail If I didn't make payment arrangements to pay off a payday loan. Can they really do that?

A legitimate debt collector can't say that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt. Read this article about your Debt collection rights.

Been getting calls from (404 334-7492 out of Georgia. Company goes by name, "Highland Financial" or something of that nature. I spoke to a female the 1st time this call came through...the image I have of her is someone with a cigarette in her mouth, rollers in her hair, and a bathrobe on. She did not sound professional AT ALL and that is what prompted me to hang up immediately. But to my chagrin, I have been getting robocalls from this number pretty much on a daily basis and that is on-going for about 3 weeks now. The robocall states that a formal complaint has been made with their office regarding my social security number and that I need to contact them immediately or they will be forced to action a pending warrant. I did some digging online and the phone number is linked to an address in Tucker, GA. There is a Craigslist ad where a fellow named "Mr. Dunn" is seeking payday loan debt collectors...gives (404 334-7492 as the contact phone. They also have (855) 798-1893 as a number too. If you are like me...you are totally and completely SURE you do not owe anyone for a payday loan, then keep hanging up the phone. Do not press any numbers on the phone...just hang up. You may want to warn your employer and friends. These creeps probably bought a list off of a company and have enough information to reach out to people in your circle. This is definitely a scam...do not be rattled by these people into giving them ANY information.

My daughter has been receiving these same calls from different numbers I told her to just hang up. I have been receiving calls telling me my bank accounts have been frozen and I need to call, however some are from banks I have never has accounts with, this is happening in my county with local banks they are fishing and hope they mention the right back.

I know this post is a few month old, but I live in Atlanta, GA and at one time there was a legitimate financial company in town using the name Highland Financial. The company I was working for at the time did a small amount of business with them. That was several years ago and I seriously doubt that this is the same company, but I find it interesting that the name they chose used to belong to a legitimate company. Something else to watch out for.

Received a call from a family member telling me some company called them looking for me. I called the company back and realized something didn't sound right. All I asked was can you tell me what this is regarding. The person started talking about something thing changed to something else. Next thing I know he is yelling at me and being belligerent so I said good bye. Called my family back and told them it was a scam. And hung up with them then my family calls me saying that the company called them back and threatened me. Saying they were going to break my arm and do all these things. I called the police this is unacceptable!

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