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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


Received a call from 830-319-3984 Stating that I owed Cashnet usa for $1669.00 - and that felony fraud charges would be brought against me - If I didn't pay by 12:00 pm today. Attorney name Timothy Hoffman - Caller's name was Sandra Curr. Then at 11:45 am I received a call from what I thought was my County's Sheriff Department - Officer John McBride. I admit it terrified me. He said that there was a warrant for my arrest and they were sending out a detective. They said they had my IP address from the loan information from 3 years ago. The Officer said he had a recording of the call. I called the company back and she said that the attorney's secretary made a mistake and sent my name in. I called my county sherriff's department and there was no Officer John McBride. And they were aware of the fraud that was happening and investigating the allegations. The woman I spoke with at the Sheriff's office said that they use a computer to call and that is why it shows up as the Sheriff's office - but they are not legitimate. This is in Ohio.
I know it is terrifying to get these calls - cause my heart is still racing. And no one wants to go to jail - even if it means paying for a way to keeps us out. But please please do your homework. It takes just minutes on the phone or on the computer. My Sheriff's office were wonderful - and pleasant and gratefully tolerated my questions. I will also admit that I gave them my bank card to pay for it - but then did some quick work and cancelled the card. I just received a call from Officer McBride again - stating that the payment didn't go thru - I told him that I called my sheriff's department and they said there was no John McBride - he gave me badge number 9813 - He said he was sending a car to arrest my ass and throw my ass in jail. I called the sheriff's dept again just to verify and they said they had no badge number 9813. I have to addmit that I am terrified. Sheriff's office told me to file a police report.

My sister in law received a message on her voicemail from a supposed law firm addressed to my brother to give me the message to call them back immediately. The number was 8447951545. The paralegal stated that his name was Jeffrey Honeycutt and proceeded to tell me that I was being sued over a debt that I do owe for 56 counts of criminal check fraud. He told me that the attorney was probably on her way to the courthouse (at almost 5 o'clock). He put me on hold for at least 5 minutes and then the attorney came on the line identified herself as Sharon Withers. She talked so fast had some of the details about my loan completely wrong. I could not get a word in edgewise. I had to cut her off several times to tell them what happened. She claimed to be helping me as they were mediators. She put me in hold for 5 to 10 minutes and came back on the line stating that I would not believe what she was just able to do for me and that she was a wine drinker and after this supposed deal was done joked that I would owe her a bottle of wine. Apparently this company that was suing me was on the other line and agreed to settle out of court for 1 of 3 options. Option 1 was 3 payments of 3000 dollars, 2 payments of 4000 dollars or a sd (same day) payment of 6597.00 that had to be paid the following day from Walmart via western union. I was supposed to receive my affidavits thru my email the following morning and that if I didn't have that kind of money I had to borrow it from my parents grandparents, ex husband, boyfriend, friends anybody and that she wanted to talk to them also. Pretty much I was told to suck it up and humble myself after I explained that i didn't know anybody with that kind of money. I googled them and their phone number and couldn't find information on either. She said their names were "Morgan and Mccouthy (or Mcarthy).I spoke with my county attorney and the BBB. I was told they sounded like scammers.

I got a call the other day they asked for my husband and I said this is his wife can I take a message "oh well both u and ur husband r being prosecuted for check fraud" I said oh ok sure why not, I actually haven't had a bank acct in going on 4 years now. He said " it's going to happen see u in a few days" I said ok see u then. Then I blocked the number.

844-401-4738 a person by the name of Eric Nelson if that's his real name is a scam calling stating that I owe for returned checks and that isn't true. What legal company would leave such as message on a business phone or on anyone's phone.

I just got a call with all of the same items as everyone's comments from 844-234-8027 and they new all of my information and said I owed them money. I asked for written confirmation and they said they don't send written info. It is a scam!

I have been called twice in the last week regarding a fraudulent claim against me from 2011 from a cash advance loan. They went as far as to tell me that I had closed my bank account so that they could not get their money. I have not had a cash advance in over 15 years. I also called my bank to check my account and I have had the same account since 2004. They sound very convincing and threaten that you will be served papers at home or your work. My bank confirmed that they have heard of this before. Just beware! So many scammers out there. The numbers I received calls from were: 772-324-9627 and 202-930-5562.

Why do people fall for this? My sister got an email and sent it to me and laughed saying it was obviously not an "official" government email. A few things. 1) Government emails are .gov. Not Gmail or AOL 2) They don't have grammar mistakes littered throughout the document 3) File a complaint with the FTC. When the FTC has enough Complaints they will pursue these people. They previously got another company like this with a $14M fine. Please please don't give them money. They are using scare tactics.

I today from a call a man identifying himself as Paul Evans who said it was urgent and I needed to phone 877-673-2093 and give them a file number that he then gave me.

I call the number and got a man who identified himself as Michael Stone of CAG and he said there were legal documents that needed to be gotten to me, but he could not tell me what they pertained to. I suspect scam.

Just got a call from Global Services Group (Ms. Cooper) said they were retained by Compass LLC Payday Loans. So glad I found this page to assure me its a scam! I did call the # back 844-818-2313 and spoke to her again. She wouldn't give me any information. Im filing a complaint with the FTC.

We keep getting calls from Glenolden Pa Telling me that there's a Pending Legal allegation in My Husbands Name... When they leave a message on The answering Machine you can tell Their reading a scripted. This is how is goes... Mind you Broken English.
This is NRA we have a pending allegation again carlos _____ If you DON"T Call us Back you have given u your rights and will be arrested at your Home or Place of Employment... You Have been warned there's more to this at the end God Help you and God Bless..

If there was any Legal Matter why would someone call you about it... My question is Legal Matters they go to the Court and the Court sends you the notice Correct???

I am Not scared but why these Calls?

It's 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.

I keep getting a call from Bridget asking about the balance on my credit card. When I hold on and try to tell them not to call me anymore, they hang up on me. I don't have caller ID so can't block them. I signed the No Call but I still get calls. What can I do?

If you answer the call and press #1 or wait to talk to someone,  that shows your line is working, and you might keep getting calls.  Some people use an answering machine so they can hear who is calling before they pick up.

Anyone receive a call from this number? 8033997161 Sounds like a legitimate firm in SC calling on behalf of a company/court in Illinois.

I just received an email stating I owe $300 from May 2013. I check my bank statement no funds were entered on that date and I have paid all my pay day loans why are they still harassing ME. It states i NEED TO PAY OR WILL BE subpoena by court. No number to contact , no written letter stating I owed this money just emails without phone number to call.
Got email from first it's from David Wright from 24/7 loans but never borrowed from them and loan office Nicholas Brown.

They called my husband three days in a row.I answer as follows:This conversation will be recorded for quality control and in case we go to court.A copy of this conversation will be going to the Attorney General,the local police department as well as the F.B.I. and Federal Trade Commission. This is just in case you are a Phantom Debt Collector. Shall we proceed? Then you hear a click ..... Good Bye Scammer !The number that calls is
1-844-210-5817 a person with an Indian accent.

I just got this call... second time this year... If i had a bad debt I would certainly work to cure it, but they refuse to give me any information on the debt other than easily pulled public information about myself.... 844.575.9235 says I've committed bank fraud and I have to go to court to settle - but won't email me or mail me the documents needed to pay on the debt. I can ONLY receive the documents by being served? I am reporting to local police. Need more information on how to pursue. How many people need to be effected until FTC will take action??

Can someone please tell me if this is a real or fake number because I don't know how to look it up 855-201-7108....they are telling me that I owe over 1200 dollars for a payday loan from 2011 and that they would settle for $300.00 by the end of this month...someone please help me find out if this is a fake number

If you owe money for a payday loan, call the company yourself and ask about your account. If you really have a debt, read this article for information about your rights when you deal with debt collectors.

Some scammers call people and pretend to be debt collectors. They might have some of your personal information, and try to scare you into paying. A real debt collector isn't allowed to harass you. If they call again, tell them to send you written proof of the debt. They should send a notice that says the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This FTC article about fake collectors has more information.

Got a call from number 1-305-330-4764 some lady named Valerie saying that my husband was getting charged with two counts of fraud if he didn't call her back and get this resolved. I knew it was a scam because it has happened before.

has anyone ever got a call from this number??844-726-7489 seems I had the same situation as all I read

Same scammy lady called about a payday loan. Called from 972-954-4794. Has called maybe 20 times in the past two weeks. This time, I said, wait a minute, before you get started, I need some of your info. I told her I needed her full legal name as it appeared on her Indian passport, her ID number, her social security number, and her full home address. She started rattling off fake info, and I jumped in and said, one more thing, I need the VIN number off the vehicle you drove to work today. She got really flustered and hung up. Can't wait for the next call when I tell her I am outside her house...

Seriously......Why is it ok for them to do this. At some point there should be a sting and/or crack down as this activity is fraudulent.

Before long, they will be on the level of placing items on your credit. Now they work in tiers... Tier 1: Fake Process Server call Tier 2: Fake Legal clerk (Who places you on hold to ask the fake attorney) Tier 3: Fake Legal Director........

What is next, they will place these bogus schemes on your credit and it will be like hell getting it off!

I got a call from 'Atlantic Group' on behalf of 'Manhattan' 'online payday loans' (805-293-1109) stating that I owed a payday loan for $500 that had been taken out in 11/2013 on a bank account that was closed in 2010, with an address I hadn't lived at since 2009. They said my ex husband and his dad were on the loan as contacts, which is absurd since I would have never used my ex husbands estranged father to file a loan, let alone, have filed a loan ONLINE in 2013....when I was having quite the opposite of money problems, let alone for $500 with an employer reference I hadn't worked at since 2009. I asked repeatedly for a mailed invoice stating the debt and attempt to collect a debt- I also noted how they didn't state they were recording the call, or attempting to collect a debt until about 5 minutes into the call...which is not legal or on the up and up. They said they were an 'arbitrator' (wanted to be very clear on that term) and that this was the absolute last time they would be contacting me about the issue before their client sued me. When I told them I was confused and did not have such a debt they got rude and belligerent. Even though they themselves admitted they supposedly had only ever sent mail to an address I hadn't lived at in over 5 years they could not and would not send out mail to me upon my request, to the current and correct address. Furthermore they would only 'email' a receipt if I paid the debt. They told me I'd be paying court fees, but every time they brought up that threat the number and amount changed...1500-200. At one point they hung up on me and told me they'd 'see me in court.' I called back to find out more and here are some other gems of phrases I heard 'I understand you are saying you didn't incur the debt, but you are legally responsible as it is in your social security number (which she could not repeat for security reasons) and most people just pay to avoid the embarrassment of going to court because they don't want to be embarrassed.' Or how about- "I've been calling you every hour from 7 am to 3 pm today and you haven't been picking up." when I have no missed phone calls on my phone.... DO NOT pay these people, it is a SCAM!

These are useful details for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I got a call from 214-227-9220 someone claiming to be with a company from LSA. They also called my in-laws home. Stating that there are charges slated to be filed against me for fraud and have 24 hours to contact them back to give a voluntary statement of intent. I tried a reverse lookup to see if this is legit company as I have not idea what they are talking about, but got nowhere. Anyone else hear of something like this???

I just received phone call from that same #. 214 227 9220. However the guy "Scott" claimed it was for EZ money.

J Just Received A Call To FROM That Lsa Mediation Number 2143963486 Saying J Have A Summon For fraud for ez money

I received a call from someone who said they were an attorney. Had my last four digits of my SSN and name. They called numerous members of my family as well. They said I owed 5th & 3rd, I called and they said I didn't. The number the scammers got a hold of me with was 866-248-8977. If these people call you don't give them anything. The company the said they were from is clarkson litigation, not a real firm even.

Yes I just received a call like this as well and when I asked where was he calling from he replied MPPS tried googling it and it came back bogus advised caller of that and he immediately hung up. I would like to report this to my congress if I could I will print out this page as evidence thanks and this has to stop. It is illegal to scam people.

I received a phone call from an unknown number from a Michael Keene at The Liason Office Of The Department of Legal Services and they said for a debt under my name and social security number and that they are going to send a letter to my residence and place of employment.

Receiving calls from a fraudulent debt collector claiming to be a law firm. The company name is GGN. 1-866-518-7283. Please don't fall for their scam. A few year's ago Wells Fargo accounts were stolen. My husband's personal information was stolen. They have his social security and harass both at home and work to collect over $750.00. He had wells Fargo Bank accounts before but left in goid standing. These people are crooks! I called the number asking questions and the lady Laurie is rude and said that their a Dog Grooming business! They provide a fax 909-614-7354 its a,Verizon wireless line in Walnut CA. She is operating this scam with a younger male.

I GOT A CALL FROM A COMPANY NAME Credit Judgement WITH A 844 NUMBER. They CALLED MY EX HUSBAND, his Wife and my children. I believe they look people up and get as much information on them. They check when you put in for a payday loan. I even google them and could not find their name I even used their number and could not find a listing for them.

These are useful details for a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.


I keep getting a email from a Robert Layton saying I own money for a payday loan that I don't remember ever doing.there very threating about how there gonna send me to jail take all I own put a hold on my bank account freeze my assets. And when I ask for info on this he just says he is the debt collector hired to collect and gives me no info just the run around. But I don't know what to do if it's real or not do I pay I can't afford to throw money away but I can't go to jail for a debt I don't remember... help

If someone calls you about a debt you don't recognize, he could be a fake debt collector. A fake debt collector might

  • ask you to pay a debt you do not recognize
  • refuse to give you a mailing address or phone number;
  • ask you for personal financial information
  • exert high pressure and try to scare you into paying. He might threaten to have you arrested or say he'll report you to law enforcement

It may be hard to tell the difference between a legitimate debt collector and a fake one. Sometimes a fake collector may even have some of your personal information, like a bank account number.

You have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If someone calls about a debt, ask him for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell him 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 he won't give you all of this information, do not pay! Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them go away. They may make up another debt to try to get more money from you.

Yep, got a call today from a 855-287-4220. Its alarming how much information they have on me from years ago. My SS#, an old bank, my job and an old address... I absolutely know its not valid because they say it was charged off in, how am I liable if its charged off? I told them I'd see them in court. For $560...and were online payday loans even available prior to 2012??

Just putting this out there for everyone, watch out for phone number 1-855-278-1853. exact same scenarios as most everyone here, call about delinquency, recite your full name and last 4 on SSN and tell you you are being pursued in court for some loan, plus legal fees, and they will be sending your documents to you. I told them I would request the court documents myself with the court system and they abruptly hung up.

Today I received a call from a local number, didn't explain anything, just that they had called to work out the delivery of this paperwork for a claim against me. When I said what, she said that she was a local locator hired to deliver paperwork to me and to call this number, 1-888-967-6702 and gave me a claim number. I called the number and they wouldn't give me much, just that I had taken a payday loan from a company called "mac" in 2012. They had all my personal information. When I stated I had never taken out a payday loan, he got loud and said if I didn't take care of it today, that once the sealed documents were delivered, they couldn't help me. I said, deliver away, I have never taken out a payday loan. And after 4 years, if this was real, wouldn't it have shown up on my credit report? He said, "good luck" and hung up. Should I contact this local number that called me and tell them to leave me alone, or should I turn it over to a D.A.? I am certainly not accepting paperwork or giving my address to them. I am floored that a local number from a sprint cell phone would show me their number.

1 844-851-1754 this number kerp calling me. They are saying I wrote a check which I know that I didn't, because I never had account with Wells Fargo. They are a scram.

Calling to say that I have debt from 2012. They call themselves the Cardinal Group representing a company called JB Processing. They had my SS# and even my bank information. Doesn't seem real to me so I'm not calling back.

Get a call Madison (?) from Richardson Solutions. told me had number of allegations pending and the I was to call back 866-706-4657 immediately. failure to call back would result in a decision being rendered against me. Never had a payday loan but they had my info. Phone number. last 4 of my social security.

1-844-285-5781 called most of my family but never called me at all. Demanding information about myself including a case number, I have received no letters in the mail or anything about this company and who they are minus they are from a "Corporate office".. these guys need to either stop or I will give them a few choice words, other people have had these same problems from the same company as well.

they are using the number 972-200-5530

They used the business name capital delivery service

knew my birthday and the last 4 of ssn. said they had legal paperwork and a server would be serving me tomorrow and that i would need to show ID. The number they called from was a texas number. I answered when they frist called but played like i could not her her after she asked about my DOB. they called back and left a voice message saying that they would be serving me tomorrow. Its a scam do not give these people any money..

The same exact thing happened to me just a few days ago . I reached out to my attorney and he investigated the business and its a new aged scam for real!!! I reported them to the Federal trade commission, Texas attorney general, and FBI fraud and scam dept. The phone number that contacted me was 972-200-5548 and the contact person was Melissa she sounded like trailer trash and by the time the FBI and trade commission gets a hold of them they will wish they didn't do it. Awful don't give them a thing.

I'm not actually certain what number called me because my cell phone was in a makeshift Faraday Cage. These people left a voicemail which was suspicious because they said they were going to file at my local courthouse. They didn't give the ACTUAL courthouse, but just that they were going to file at my local courthouse. They also made the mistake of telling me to contact them with the "pre-trial docket number"...there is no such thing as a pre-trial docket number. Docket numbers are assigned to actual scheduled trials.

The call back was some 844 number, which I didn't call back. I should do it, simply to fk with them, but I have better things to do.

I should note that all the information that these people are reporting can be received from a credit check, so check your credit reports (which I'm about to do) to see who's been checking yours so we can find these people and sue them out of existence!

Just remember that there is one more place where this information could have come from: how many of you that are receiving these calls either are now, or have been, a T-Mobile subscriber? Remember when Experian was hacked and a bunch of T-Mobile credit applications were exposed? I'll bet these calls are coming from that.

I got a voicemail from an unknown number that stated they were with the "processing department of the petitioner's division" and that they were unable to deliver legal documents to my location. They said before they go to my work, which I don't have, or campus location, which I also don't have, that they need me to call them back. There was no indication what this was for or who they were with, but they also called my mother and my sister. They gave the following number: 766-247-2953 ext 228. and a case number: xe132011. I have no record of any legal issues and I would know if I had a case number or if someone was suing me. Im thinking they are trying to act like they are suing me for some debt. Please look into this, because it was harassment and I feel like my privacy has been violated.

If you want to report this to law enforcement, go to The information you enter there will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.


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