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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

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Got this call today too. Claimed they had legal documents to send to my home address and wanted to confirm that I would be home. I asked who it was from and he gave me a phone # 415-230-2036 to call for more information.

my boss got a call saying that i had a lawsuit against me, and that i was in trouble in MN. i have no debt, credit cards, bank accounts, or even a payday loan of any kind. i called them back, and when i questioned the man about his company and who he was, he yelled 'WHO THE F*#K IS THIS???'. i then called back from my cellphone pretending to be someone else asking questions. the same man said 'hold on, let me pull up your account info here'. i asked 'how can you pull up account info if you dont even have my name?' he asked for my name and phone number and i kindly said 'no sir, you called ME!' he hung up afterwards. SCAM!!

I received a call at work again about a payday loan that I applied for online years ago but didn't get approved. This time it was a (804) 482-4026 # from National Attorney Information System. They wanted to verify the last four of my SS# which I declined. They claimed that someone was in my work area ready to serve me if I didn't pay an undisclosed amount of money. They ask for my HR department which I declined. I told them if you were going to serve me at work, then you should have the information...if you're legit.

I got a call yesterday. Someone left me a message from 'clerk of court' advising me to contact Zimmerman and Young. I was worried so I called the Supreme justice court in my area, they looked up my name and verified I had no charges against me. I was also told that I would receive a certified letter, a clerk of the court would never call to refer me to an attorneys office.
I called Zimmerman and Young. A guy claimed he was a paralegal but had no info to provide about this so called debt from a payday loan. 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.

Be aware of phone number 716-462-4570. They called and said that I owed for a payday loan. Seems funny considering I've not taken a payday loan from CASHNET. I asked for their address they gave me 1189 Kenmore Ave. Buffalo, NY 14217. I can not verify that address. I keep calling back to verify that address and they hang up on me saying that they will file a suit for harassment. Funny, I thought they wanted money.

Meyers Group? Left some robocall message about "serious allegations" and a case #. I have also been getting these really annoying recorded messages congratulating me about a loan that I never applied for....which makes me wonder whether that the two are connected. I made the mistake of looking for loans online a few years ago and did not follow through. Now my info is out there and these scammers will surface every few months. I never answer a call not recognized and send everything to a blocked list.

Scam alert from number 415-230-2036. Claim they need to deliver papers for lawsuit - don't fall for it

someone please answer this question.If a lawsuit was legit,would it ever be sent to your email?

my husband received a call at work saying they had a warrant for his arrest and they would be picking him up the end of this week if he didn't not go with what they said. I called them and spoke with a lady who hung up on me and when I called back said I had to muh attitude and placed me on call with one of her superiors where she said I would not use that tone of voice and I said oh yes I will. when I spoke with the superior whos name is casey morgan she said they have a payday loan acct on file who says we have not paid. and then proceeded to tell me about the warrant so I told her I would be in contact with my counties courthouse and sheriff. when I called there they said if you have a warrant they will not call they will just show up at your door and take you. so I proceeded to call her back with that info and she hung up again. when confronting them they got very mouthy and would hang up so I called back finally they told me I was very rude and that they were no longer talking to me. the number to watch for is 904-435-5064 they sounded like a bunch of ex cons..

So 4yrs ago i get the call from the guy saying i was going to be taken to court for a payday loan i didnt pay. First, I hadnt applied for a loan in years. Secondly, I never got any money. So after several minutes of panic. I called back asking which company gave me a loan he said cash america. And i asked what card they gave it to me on. It was close to my card number but off on the last two digits. He had my drivers license and ssn. I explained i hadnt recieved a loan he called me a liar. I called an attorney and the place i "received" the loan. The loan place had no record. The attorney suggested i report to the police which i did, however they ran my license like i was the criminal and asked what they were supposed to do about it. Anyway, i quit answering the phone tho they still harrass me from time to time. But, now its on my credit report. I have no idea how to get it off of there. Or what to do.

I received a call from a guy named LEROY HILL yesterday at around 6:30PM asking me for my address. He never said why he didn't it. So I asked him and he was like "what I can't hear you?" and I said why the hell do you need my address. He said he has papers to drop off for a claim against me. I said, excuse me? What claim? And he said I am so sorry you should have been notified about this claim against you. He would not tell me where he was calling from, only his name, and his phone number was 609-489-5342. He gave me a number to call with a claim #. I hung up with him and tried calling him back to see who answered. The number rang once and then a message stated "the department of investigations is not accepting messages". So I hung up and called the number he gave me 855-245-0179 and it is a company called century group. A girl answered and asked me my claim #...she looked it up and said they are trying to collect on a pay day loan from Vandelier Group/Bahama Markeing from 6/1/12 that i never paid back. Which is not true, because I paid the few I took out back (you really don't have a choice it comes right out of your account). The girl was telling me I was going to be sued blah blah and couldnt give me any paperwork to back anything up. She kept trying to make me pay her right then and everytime she went to her case manager (Kerry) she came back with a lower number. I finally told her I can pay on the 15th and gave her a number to a debit card I do not use (no money on it). Which I will close when I know this is a scam. Anyone have any info to help me out? I have been researching a lot.

The phone numbers change all the time. I assume to make this scamming company untraceable. These unscrupulous scammers never give up. Home and cell ringing at the same time from "Restricted" callers. Leaving the same threatening message as follows.

"This is not a sales call. A complaint has been filed and your statement is required prior to the filing date. We ask that you verify name and location information to schedule service of process. You may press any key on your phone now to speak with an agent or call the claimant office at 844-823-0319."

An attorney has investigated this and confirmed it is a scam. I have reported to IC3, FBI and local police. I cant understand why they cant catch these disgusting individuals.

No one warns you of being served, I would think they already know my name and address as they have scowered the internet to find any family or friends of mine to harrass. What a joke!

I have recieved a call from this same company over the last several days. Stating that they have a notice of intent and will be serving me paperwork. The last call, recieved today, was from a woman stating that I have had ample time to respond and they have confirmed my address and employment. First she says the call is my last warning and I will be served with papers then she says, in the same breath, that I have 24 hours to respond. By the way, they always say, you have 24 hours to respond and it will be there last attempt to contact me. I have no idea what they are talking about and I do not plan on calling back to find out. If they truly have my current address, then they should be able to send me something via USPS regarding the debt....they have not; only the threatning phone calls.

Im very discouraged got a call tonight from a restricted number. They left a voicemail telling me I better call back as a law suit is filed against me. Call with a file number. They called my ex husband his soon to be wife its scary how do they get these numbers?. I called back and was scared they asked me if xXxX is the ladt four digits of social and told me a lump sum of what im being sued but I can pay half the balance by tomorrow to avoid being served. I was crying explaining I have no job etc...telling me well if they have to serve me its additional attorney fees of 3,500 on top of what was owed. I felt very uncomfortable and feel its a scam. The telephone number to call back was 1-844-790-3069. I tried to call back to talk to audrey blake and the guy said shes off now I will send you to her voicemail. It was a gyneric voice box. Im assuming its a scam right?

Anyone heard of Century Group? 855-245-0179 ...same kind of issues as above. But first a local number called me (leroy hill 609-489-5342) asking for my address to deliver paperwork to. I asked him what for and he gave me the number above with a claim #.

I received a phone call from a " unknown" number that leaves a message to contact 844-506-7763. When I asked the guy to tell me who was call, he got annoyed and hung up. They've also called my family. I know it's a scam but it doesn't make it any less annoying.

My co-worker took a call and his name was Miles Morales and he told her what was are process she didn't know what he was talking about and he told her that he needed documents to me. his number is 844-506-7763. He also left a message on my phone saying he had talk to my boss and was waiting for information on me. He also said that I needed to call him and let him know where I would be to get the documents to me. But if he has anything on me then he should have all my information.

I got a call this morning from a guy who said something about James Montgomery and he said he was calling on behalf of someone and to call a number and ask them about what's going on. So i call the number and a guy asks for the case number, I give it to him and he goes "You don't know what's going on?" I'm like "no" he goes into his script of how I owe for a payday loan and he wanted to know if I wanted to rectify the situation before they file fraud charges and I will be arrested at my place of employment today and embarrassed and if I had kids that "Their mommy was going to be in jail". I told him to tell whoever to file whatever they needed to file and I'd see them in court.

I received a call today from a detective Brown w/ the Fraud Division for the legal offices of Central Claim Services; threatening to subpeona my ex husband and current husband if I didn't return his call. stated i needed to present myself to the DA office and my refusal to return the call would be my omission of guilt - said to report to room #202. No other address. researched the phone number, it is from a fax machine - called about 8 different offices looking for a detective brown - no one has a 'detective brown' in their department. I'd rather serve time than to pay them a dime. How do I get them to stop? I'm beyond stressed out with their lies and threats. advice please!!!

844 804 5382 is yet another one...same story

I received a call from a blocked number so I let it go to voice mail. When I checked the message I received an ominous message about a "legal" complaint in their office, they didn't identify themselves at all but told me failure to respond to their 855-217-4635 number with my reference number would result in an immediate court summons. This is the first I've ever heard from these people and when I did a reverse phone search it turned up empty but according to 1800notes.com they are not a real business. One thing I know for sure is that they are not the entity that has the ability to issue a summons. I can tell just from the message they left they are extremely aggressive and I won't be calling them back. Plus what kind of collection agency calls from blocked numbers doesn't identify themselves and when you research their number find only that it's a VoIP number from level 3 communications? Yeah if they call again they can talk to my attorney and perhaps even the federal authorities.

My question is -- why haven't they been shut down???

These people from Ashton check recovery keep leaving me messages in reference to a returned check with my social security number on it. Ironically they called my cell phone and left a recorded message, they can't be legit because I haven't even used a check in over 5 years. Their number 855-217-4635 shows as some level 3 number. I haven't called them back because I haven't written a check in forever, but tomorrow I'm going to ask for a validation of debt letter. If they can't provide that I'm heading directly to the local FBI office.

if you get a call like this you have a few options, gather as much information as you can and start a civil case for personal damages. a subpena will be issued to the other party and if they dont respond a real warrant will be issued for their arrest.

if you cant gather info on them, go to your respective LEA and file a report for attempted fraud. note that if you do this itll be considered a criminal case and depending on your area might not allow you to press charges.

dont underestimate the power of the system if you cant find them the justice system will. better than ignoring their calls and dealing with their bull****.

John Carter from ARS (716-8291865) called me. I returned his call. He asked me to verify the last four of my SSN. I did not. I asked him what this is about he said it’s in regards to Credit One credit card. He said I owe a balance of $915 and if i wanted to take care of it today. I told him I don't remember owning $915 dollars to any company and that I would need the debt validated. He asked if he could send something by email. I said no. He then ask me to confirm my address. He provided and old address (Quincy, MA). I said that’s not my current address. I said I would need debt validation information to review. He then said he can’t send any debt validation information; the only thing he can send is a settlement agreement. He said the debt has been validated because its gone through 3 collection agencies and his client wants to go to court. I asked who his client is and he said he couldn’t tell me that. I asked him why he couldn't tell me the name of the company that wants to sue me. He said he cannot tell me the name, only that they are going to take me to court for this amount. Then he said he will submit a request to move forward with the complaint. I said okay goodnight.

Received calls from "Colin Moore" for the past two days. He blocks his number and I send it to voice mail. He has legal documents on his desk attached to my name and social. I need to contact the claimant at 855-480-2550 and if I don't, he will be visiting me at work or my home to serve me no later than Friday as he's a legal document courier.He ends the message with 'you have been notified'

He called me too..still waiting to be served

I was called on Thursday and Friday of last week and was told that if I did not call back by the end of the day there will be a warrent issued for my arrest. I called back and they said that I was being charged with bank fraud and money theft because of a pay day loan. Well first off I never had a pay day loan and second where I work would have already been notified if that was the case. So after the first call had me all panicked that something was going to happen I reported it to the local police, Then on Friday I got the same call agian and when I called it back and they asked for my phone number, I told the lady I am so sorry I don't give that out she hung up. Now today is Monday and I do not know if they have called agian. It is a 210-762-5320 number that keeps calling. They told me that I can call victim services to settle this.That number is 210-625-4685. I did a search on both numbers, the first one does not come up and the second is registered to a cell phone. Good luck to everyone that has been getting these calls. Call and report them to your local police dept.

I was stupid and actually sent them money I'm a single mom and panicked thinking I have no one to take my children they said I had an hour and that I would be arrested either at home or at work. Also watch out for a company called westmontcapital they say you qualify for a loan of 7000 but you need to send a deposit since this is a secured loan then they ask for more money after that by the time you send them all the money they ask for you have sent the 7000 don't fall for it scam

1% of the population are psychopaths...
Lying comes as easy as blowing their noses. Even easier if Mommy and Daddy taught them, which is often the case with this type of scam. It's often a "family" thing...

I have received 3 calls and the caller ID says the number is a fax number from a government office in downtown L.A. - they ask me to call 888-788-8884 and that I am going to be served on a legal matter within days if I do not call and put a "hold" on the legal process. They leave NO case number, or any info about the debt or reason for the case. When I call back, I get a woman's voice mail. I believe this is a scam. Look up 888-788-8884 at Google and there are many complaints about this phone number.

Okay can some one help me out on this i got a phone call from a dept collector she said she was and please dont laugh at this im freaking out okay well she said i have a dept of $367 to Pornhub and she said if i don't pay I will go to juvinial court and she said I had 2 weeks to pay it at the website then she hangs up she sounded american after like a week has past she calls again and says my dept got higher and I told her i didn't watch at that website i watched somewhere else apparently it stacked up from the other website two so i ask an advise from my health teacher he asked me if i made an account i said no and he said did you use a phone or computer I said phone and then the teadher says again did you use internet on phone or wireless internet like house internet i said yes and he said if you used house internet then they should call your house phone then he said check it out just in case it's a fraud so can some one answer my question is it fraud and the stuff i watched was not the member ship ones or anything and apparently I have 9 days to pay now

I have received two calls from a 'John Morgan' saying I need to call reference legal action being taken against me for money I owe a payday loan company called Bohemian. Never heard of them and have no such loan. First time he called he said he was from SM&G Group--no such company. Second time he called didn't give any info except is was a legal action. Mr. Number says this phone number belongs to Lor, LLC. Still nothing to do with loans, lawyers, etc. Here is the number: 302-536-2681. It shows from Seaford, DE.

Today i had received a call from this, "John Morgan," calling on behalf of company, "Superior Document Services," inquiring if i had received mail from superior court about a case filed against me. I then asked in regards to what and he didn't disclose any pertaining info about the case and he said, "I don't have specifics and can't open your pdf file but i have a case number and phone number you can call for further information. After the call i then googled "superior document services phantom debt," which showed the ftc site as the top link and upon clicking and searching through posts i found this, "john morgan," to be listed here hence, my reply to the above post. He was saying the court was using them as a service which i find far fetched and sketchy. Pls watch out and dont be fooled or let a scammer shake your self-security.

This same person called my work number (how he got it I have no idea), I requested he not call me at that number, he asked me to call him back. I didn't and he called back again...I said, "I requested you not call me at this number" and hung up..he called back again..i said it is against the law for you to be calling when i've requested you not to..he asked to be xfered to my human resource dept...I honestly don't know that number because I generally just go to the office if needed...he threatened me to call him back by 12 or he was going to find out the number and hung up.

I received a call today from a woman claiming to be named Blake Tyler stating that she had several formal complaints that were supposedly going to be filed against me. However she couldn't give me any kind of info on these alleged complaints at all which there were none because she was trying to scam me. The number I was told to call was 855-375-2986. Called back that number and it was for a place called coastal and asked me to dial my party's extension. I was never given an extension number. Immediately after hanging up the phone, my dad called me and said the same lady I just talked to left a voicemail on his phone. So annoying.

I am sick and tired from this SRO firm calling me telling me this woman gave them my cellphone their number is 855-7771978 its been more than two years that this same people is calling me and asking me if I know her, this last time they were more annoying and telling me I was crabby for answering in a bad way. I am f* tired. I have this phone number for more than 10 years and whoever used my number to get credit gave it away. So I don't know if this is a scam or this person used my name and number to get whatever.. I'm so pissed

Just got a call saying it was for check fraud from 214 504 2986, saying i need to appear in court..wow...these people are crazy, and they want money from me..

if you are free and clear on "said debt" call them relentlessly and they will eventually leave you alone. i called them over a hundred times in 2 days from different numbers. they have beged me to stop calling. as long as i dont hear from them i will leave them alone

Just got a call from 866-748-9151. Left a voicemail stating "We're looking for the following defendant (insert name). If you have any info about the defendant please call with case number..." I looked the number up and all that comes up is an old behavior health company which clearly doesn't use the number anymore. Ridiculous.

Has anyone received a call from 909-366-5780? I traced it to National Paymen in Big Bear Lake CA. The lady, Harmony Bland, claimed to be a part of LMI Legal Services (which does not come up with a simple Google search). She said I owed first $150 then by the end of the call $650 for a payday loan. I demanded either an email or hard copy of the details and she refused. I told her that I needed them for my lawyer to review. I was told that I would be receiving a summons to court.

I got a call from 281-201-0413/ STP Group. Woman was leaving me a message about 'giving me a chance to answer allegations about a debt I owed'. I picked up and began to play along---she smoothly and very confidently told me I had taken out a Cashnet USA online loan in Sept of 2013 for $575 and with interest, $872 was now due (that's one heck of an interest rate!!). I needed to pay it NOW or they were going to file suit. I told her I had never taken out a loan--she told me they 'had already subpoenaed records and were going to file suit'. (I was married to an atty---that's not how it works. You have to have a lawsuit filed BEFORE you can subpoena anything.) Much of her jargon like 'answer allegations' was an attempt to intimidate by sounding 'legal'. During conversation she told me driver's license # that was not mine and a totally incorrect email address attributed to me. The SCARY PART WAS SHE REPEATED MY ENTIRE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER CORRECTLY, correct birthdate and though the loan was 'deposited' to an acct # which I have never had, the bank was correct. She also had my correct home address. Way too much correct personal information! Conversation ended with me denying any such loan and she told me I needed to contact my atty for representation. I told her to bring it on..... I called the sheriff's dept and filed a full report so that if they do anything that effects my credit score (which she threatened several times), I will have backup. I know it's a scam but it does give me cause for pause to know how much of my private info is in their hands. I am very protective of it and have NO idea how they got it.

It's a big game...you people lie to them, they lie to you. Whoever lies better wins! If you paid your bills in the first place, you wouldn't have these problems! Look in the mirror and place the blame where it truly lies.

I got my first such call today.. 202-241-9607.. let the voice mail pickup.. I certainly wasn't going to , why?? because I get these crappy calls all day, FBI, cruises and lots of unknowns.. The reason I didn't pick this one up, we have not now or ever had any bill not pd.. and have never taken out a payday loan.. we work for our money.. we don't have the money, we don't buy it.. so it's not everyone that may have now or at one time owed a debt, other than to their own local bank that is getting these calls. think before you spout off

all kidding aside, rcvd call regarding payday loan from pls check cashing in Jan 2015 stemmons freeway Dallas Tx # was 214-275-9478 I never took loan and they refuse to send me written validation notice it's scam written all over it.

Please stop this number 206-582-7956 becasue it called me 5 times in different dates and didn't say who, no answer and I redialed back to find out just answering machine stop this abuse calling

Phone number 916-469-7022 and 7012 claiming to be from the attorney general offc in California. Stating fraud charges against me for stating my income was entered as a higher amount than I make on a payday loan I never got!! Claiming I owe $3000 or will be arrested at my place of employment.

That just happen to me too. The number is 9164697022

So I had someone call from 206-629-2080 - claims to be a Mark Davis. As with most people on here...there is no debt to collect on. However, he said he was contacting my county court and will be filing suit so I called the police and said that is not how anything like this works. It is fraud and harassment scares people. This idiot called my sister, my husband who all panicked. That is not how you do business. I told him to send me whatever he has in the mail so I can view it and give it to my lawyer and he said that is not how it works. So I told him to file and I will deal with the courts directly so we will see what happens. Now to the people on here telling others they need to pay their debt and stop lying - you don't know anything so you shouldn't be on here at all. Unless of course you are a Mark Davis and paid to harass and receive a bonus if you actually get some poor schmuck to pay you, which I am sure you are.

Call from 214-504-2986 Scam call about non existent check fraud, so tired of these scammers. go to the FCC's website and file a formal complaint. Listn to the entire message, get any identifying info. http://www.fcc.gov/complaints

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