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It’s stressful enough getting calls from debt collectors for bills you actually owe. But if you’ve ever been harassed and threatened for debts you’ve never even heard about, let alone accrued, it can be downright harrowing – and quite possibly illegal.

Today, the FTC announced that a U.S. district court has temporarily halted a Georgia-based operation from using deception and threats to collect millions in phantom payday loan “debts.”  The FTC says Williams, Scott & Associates and company president John Williams lied and threatened people to pay on debts they didn’t owe – or debts the company didn’t have the authority to collect.

According to the FTC, the debt collectors claimed to be federal and state agents, investigators, or members of a government fraud task force, or they pretended to be with a law firm.  They falsely told consumers their driver’s licenses would be revoked and that they faced immediate arrest and imprisonment if they didn’t pay up.  How did the debt collectors even know to contact those consumers?  The FTC says many of the people had inquired about a payday loan online at one time and submitted contact information, which the company later got its hands on.  The case is pending in federal court in Atlanta.

Don’t get intimidated by a bullying bill collector – real or fake.  Any debt collector impersonating a law enforcement officer or threatening you with immediate arrest if you don’t pay up is violating federal law.

If you think a caller may be a fake debt collector:

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller you won’t discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice." If the caller refuses, don’t pay.
  • Put your request in writing. If you have the caller’s address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you, and keep a copy for your files. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires any debt collector to stop calling if you ask them to in writing.
  • Don’t give or confirm with the caller any personal, financial, or other sensitive information. Fake debt collectors, and other scammers, can use your information to commit identity theft and other crimes.
  • Contact your creditor.  If a debt is legitimate – but you think the collector isn’t – contact your creditor.  Tell them about the suspicious call and ask who, if anyone, the creditor has authorized to collect the debt.
  • Report the call. File a complaint with the FTC and your state Attorney General's office with information about suspicious callers. Many states have their own debt collection laws in addition to the federal FDCPA.

Learn more about protecting yourself from fake debt collectors and about your rights if you actually are facing debt collection.


Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


I believe these people are at it again.I received a call today from 210-762-6845. Received all kinds of threats about being arrested for being default on a payday loan and I have never had a payday loan.

Same thing happened to my wife today. Recieved a call from 210-853-2440 threatening with two felony charges and immediate jail time if an old credit card debt was not paid by 4pm.

I got the same call it was a Georgia number they told me I needed to pay or give them my attorney info by 4pm on a case that was filed in the county I live in when I asked why haven't I been contacted by the county or the sheriff she said oh it hasn't been filed yet

My husband just got an email an a text from a miller law firm about a payday loan in the email and owed money, and the text was there is a warrant out for your arrest, this stuff needs to Stop

I received calls yesterday, 2/17/17, on my landline (which is non-published/unlisted) and to my wife's cell phone from a "National Mediation Group" that has a possibly free web address of       nationalmediationgroup.          Weebly by the way is a free web site builder. Their site comments were written in the 3rd party, which is extremely odd. There is no address, phone number, etc. on their site. And it's a very pain site with hardly any images, etc. I called them back to see why they were calling and was informed that I had had a payday loan taken out in 2013, and on a bank account that isn't mine. They did know my SS#, and had several past addresses. They flat out refused, after being asked over and over, to send a validation letter in writing with the information on this loan, and from a "parent company" that has dozens of different payday loan companies. Hundreds of them no less.

If I paid one lump sum of just under $500.00 (the loan was supposedly for $500 but they would take less), or pay 6 payments of $250 (which would equal $1,500). I would be served "legal documents" the following week if I refused to pay them. Also I could hear many other reps in the background as with a call center. I asked about that and he said no, they are a "law firm." I said that they were then a call center and were a bill collector, and he exploded when told that. I said that they were in violation of FTC laws and rules, upon which he hung up. Called back several times, and no answer (this was early afternoon for all of this). Anyone else have issues with this "National Mediation Group" (phone number 855-690-1225)? They also called from a Phoenix, AZ landline with a different number.

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

I am getting a call from an unknown number saying I owe from an outstanding credit card that I stopped paying on almost 3 years ago. The guy is telling me if I do not take their settlement offer of $502.11 someone will be serving me. He knew my address, last four of social, and date of birth. I told him I want to resolve the debt but I will not just give anyone money on the phone that I would like some kind of documentation mailed to me showing proof of everything. He refused and said it's to late the only documentation I will get is me being served. I told him I need to speak with my fiancee before I pay any money and asked for a call back number. He said his name was Roz Wood and to call him back at (855)764-8845 when I asked for a company name he wouldn't give me anything. Has anyone else experienced this before? Is this a scam?

Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

This FTC article has information about your rights when you deal with a debt collector.

I was also contacted by a scammer and they also knew the last four of my social and an old address and old phone number also asked company name address and work id told me he couldn't disclose unless I verified social. They were very aggressive.

These "collectors" are spoofing telephone numbers for their illegal "business" activities. When asked for the Business name you may get three letters (ie: FMR) When returning a call to Sara, I gave my name to a young man with no name. He informed me that "she" was unavailable but could help me if I gave him my SS number. Ahh, NO! He became very rude as did his language. I asked him for his name, again and the name of the Business. He hung up. Possible spoof telephone number (877) 297-6361
Defiantly, a illegal collection "business" I have never gotten a Pay Day loan.

This same thing happenned to me yesterday! But it was from downstate but they knew the county soc dob bank account number, they knew tons of info. Guy said his name was Arnold. They almost got over 800 from me and I called the county and nothing filed and called the debt collector or said it is indeed a scam especially because the original debt is 254. It's so scary!

I got several calls with the same kind of threats. They even went so far as to call my job and give out my personal information. They also called one of the supervisors at my place of employment to discuss details of my 'case.' Seems unethical and illegal.

Yes I have,now I am getting calls from people using the same area code I live in but are from another country or have a strong foreign accent. Now I'm being told the documents a sealed and that I can not get copies of the complaint against me because they been sending them to and address that has not existed since 2005..There is no home it's an empty lot.

I received calls now for weeks someone stateing they are from a company in Montgomery al IRC legal department and that I’m in trouble for a payday loan back in 2013 and that since I won’t comply with them I will need a lawyer that they have been trying to serve me papers and they had my social and birthdate and called my family members harassing them I’m tired of them can we call anyone to put a stop to them

The same thing happened to me today . a woman by the name of Jennifer Larson called my mom's number and told her everything then spoke with me. tried to get cash , threatened me with "2 felony charges and jail time " for a pay day loan that happened in 2012 . They had my social & past addresses ... When I told the woman I could go to the court house to pay instead of paying over the phone she got very rude . They were also by the name IRC

They called me on Tuesday! Same person Jennifer Larson from IRC

They called me yesterday! It started with an automated recording stating a package was attempted to be delivered, but no one was available to sign for it and to press any number to speak to a representative. Usually I wont fall for these types of things, however I had ordered my Mom a gift that was suppose to have been delivered. A man answered and stated he had been attempting to serve me for 2 fraud cases. That threw me off. What fraud? Definitely a scam. While on the phone with him I was looking on the database for my county to see if anyone was trying to serve me or if there was any pending cases against me. I found nothing. I told him I found nothing and he said there was a reason and instantly transferred me to a woman who just said "processing". I refused to state if I was the intended person, and they still read off my name, DOB, SSN, and an address that I never lived at.

They called me at 6am claiming that they have a warrant for someone and that my number was what they were given. When I confronted them about the time that they are calling they backpedaled and started to cuss me out.

I just got the same thing!

The same company and person contacted me on Tuesday April 31,2019 . There first call came from a 419 area code stating they were trying to deliver a package,There call back number was 866-336-9739. Jennifer Larson from IRC processing demanded I pay said amount by 2 pm or a Warrant would be issued for my arrest. I panicked at first but when she wanted me to pay them by a prepaid debit or credit card I became suspicious! Did some checking, needless to say Jennifer Larson didn’t get the Money!

I got the same email today from an Express Collection Agency threatening me with a lawsuit of a past due loan in my name and my SAN. I was threatened by jail time, court fees and garnishment of wages if I didn't pay by today. Something has got to happen for this to stop!

Thanks for sharing your experience. You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at Also, the article Fake Debt Collectors provides tips to help you handle calls like the one you describe.

thank you going through this right now

I'm so relieved to see this! They are calling me and saying the exact same thing!! The "attorney" that keeps trying to threaten me, is named Linda Chapman with "Legal Consultant Services" or "Legal Review Services" out of Atlanta GA, with the address of 8343 Roswell Rd. Suite 209 Atlanta GA 30350 & phone number 855-677-6357. Yhis supposed "attorney" Linda, told me that I had 2 pending federal felony charges, that ouccured from a loan I supposedly got in 2012, for $1,305.70 from a financial institution called ADVANCE CASH, out of Gaines county. When I asked her for more details on this matter, she referred me to call another number, which was 704-247-5085.

I just had the same thing happen to me from all the same numbers and people with different names yesterday! I am so glad this information is out there and people are sharing it!

I got an email from these people with the 712th Nonjudicial District Court seal on it.. It's incredibly intimidating until I realized that i never had a payday loan with the company they say they're representing. Unbelievable what these companies will do.

I got a call saying I applied for a online payday loan in 2012 and if I didn't pay right then 400 dollars it would raise to 800, and be sent to the courts. I was having hip replacement then and I have been disabled since 2010.

I received the same type of call today from Legal Review Services from a 334 area code number. I asked for them to send me documentation, they said the could not. Just as in the previous comments, it was from ADVANCE Cash that occurred in 2012. The told me it was for 1500 but I can settle for 943.00. I too am relieved but this must stop! Preying on innocent hard working people.

I received a call today notified from a Nicole foaster in sayn that im being sued by Sinai-Grace Hospital for a over due balance but they never said no court date they said i have to pay 630.00 in order to avoid going to court in this was told to me by a david williams i feel like its fake cause i havent received any notice by mail or email...what do i do

If you know you don't owe that debt, the call might have been from a fake debt collector.

Read the information at the top of this blog post, and use the tips. Start by asking the caller for a name, address and phone number. Tell him to send you a written validaton notice with information about the debt.

Do a map search of the address given and you will be surprised it's a vacant lot, or a abandoned house..use Google maps

I received a call in August of this year stating I owed a pay day loan and if I did not pay them by 5 pm that day that I would get a summons to appear in court on Monday and they threatened to garnish my wages. I found out it was a scam and disregarded it. On October 18th I received the same type of call but from Michigan from 734-224-6617 stating if I did not call them back that they would attempt the same as listed above.

A few days later a women called from 734-224-6618 identifying herself as a Ms Turner called saying if I did not call her back in 1 hours she would compile all my papers together and I would get a summons sent to Lake County Court on Monday of the following week. I ended up changing my number. She gave me a fake attorneys "William Pratt Young & Associates". Per my investigation; William & Pratt is a CPA office in Michigan and Young & Associates is an attorneys office. I called Young&Associates asking if there was an Emily/Rachel or Ms.Turner there. They said no. I explained why i was calling and was asked to leave a msg with one of the attorneys. I did leave a message. You can check for and see all comments for 734-224-6618 and 734-224-6617. I filed a complaint w/ FTC in August abt the first scam call. Not sure of the results or outcome.

I also received a phone call from "Ms. Turner" last week. She claimed that I owed $800 for a payday loan back in 2012. I told her that I thought I had paid it off. She said that I needed to pay them by the end of the month to avoid being taken to court. Should I assume this is a scam for sure?

The collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. The notice must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money. Consider it a red flag if the collector hasn't (or won't) send you a written notice.

I have made a major mistake I recieved a call fromr Terrick Turner today. Unfortunately I eas in shock.and gave him including card numne,address and email what do I do now?

If you gave your credit card or bank account number to someone you don't trust you can call them back and cancel the transcaction or all your bank or credit card company and ask what to do.

I received a call asking for my social security number and my date of birth.

The representative went on to tell me that I $1,500 to a bank. The representative refused to give me an address where I could send a dispute.

I do not owe this bill and it was concerning that all they were concerned about was setting me up on a payment plan or me paying the money even after I stated I don't owe it.

They refused to receive a demand letter proof of the debt and also refused me any information where I could challenge the debt.
This seems like it is a new scam to get you to pay a debt you don't owe.

I got a call today from the same person. Sounded really weird so I looked into it.

I just got a call yesterday from tylor mills from Williams pratt young associates too. 734-224-6639. they said I owe them $2767.they said they will summons and arrest me.I'm asking a copy or email me the about the money I owe but the said I sent it last month September.

Ha!!! Scam !!! I live in that area and there's a Kroger, as dollar tree, a liquor store, a beauty shop all in that area. The actual address is for the liquor store.

they are at it again. 2107444130 mary ellen, jackie are just some of the names i spoke to. they refused to give an address, lic number, said they where affidavit investogator processing company with some attorny offce. Icalled the payday loan company and they are dispersing me a letter that states i have never had a loan with them. they are dishing threats and are not very smart when it comes to backing up those threats. its redicolus

that is just horrible to hear about this scam but received a letter stating that they were with the St.Bernard tax office and that I owe tax money to this town idk what is going on because this year is the first year that I was even able to file and do not know where this mysterious money that I owe is coming from and since I'm new to this whole tax thing it scared the living crap out of me I'm only 20 and this year is the first year that I even rented an apartment but now they are saying that I owe them some money and was freaking out because they were saying that if I don't pay I will have a warrent for my arrest and I have never had anything on my record ever and am worried I'm glad that I am the type of person to do research on literally everything and just decided to look it up...

Austin Burke (Chief Verification Officer),  Federal Trade Commission. (202)-280-7341 This person gas been harnessing me for the last month. I don't know if it's real or not. I'm told that I don't pay I'll be arrested. What do I do? 12/24/14

Hi, Tanya,

I work for the Federal Trade Commission, and I can assure you that there is no Austin Burke or Chief Verification Officer here. And the FTC will never call you to collect money or threaten arrest.  The best thing to do is hang up on the scammer and report your experience at You also might want to ask your phone service provider about blocking that phone number. Be sure to ask if there are any fees for blocking it.

Nicole, I keep getting recorded calls from a number outta VA, USA, telling me I am being investigated in check fraud. They leave phone number and claim number in recording I haven't written them down, they never use my name and refer to another party of which I don't understand what they call them, then say this is my official warning. I call the number which called me n I get a Verizon message the number is changed or no longer in service. What do I do? Help please

Hi, Richard,

The best thing to do is file a complaint at and ignore any additional calls you get. You also can look into call blocking solutions. Your phone carrier might be able to block the number, but first ask if there is a fee for blocking. Our article Phone Scams has additional info that might be helpful.

i accidentally gave (a possibly scam debt collector THE LAST 4 DIGITS OF MY SS#,), did i screw up?

It's always better to keep personal and financial information to yourself. If you give out personal information, like your Social Security number, plus financial information, like a bank account or credit card number, someone might misuse that information.

Go to for more about what to do if someone has taken your information and misused it.

Yep.. The last 4 number's are unique to you. If someone found out where you were born at (where SS card was issued) than thats all they need, for instance, my ss card was obtained in Nebraska (508) which is 508-XX-XXXX..

My son called me concerned he received a harassing call from Tammy Stewart with Mediation Check Fraud Dept of Washington County. Advised him he will be subpoena to appear in reference to a check fraud case in my name with JP Morgan. provided him with my name and case number for me to call her at 866-594-3180! I do not use my children information on any business dealings. I then received a call from 971-245-3463.Message from same woman leaving same case number and 866 stating I will be served if I do not respond to this message. I decided to record my callback to see if legit. I researched the above advise to obtain info. 1st call "Tammy Stewart" answered asked name and case number. adv would not provide, recevd vm and what was the name of company, address etc.. she became escalated and kept repeating ma'am do you want to know what this is about. I told her we would get to it but first I had questions to confirm company info, she said fine you will be served and then you will find out what is about and hung up on me. 5 callbacks to voicemail. LVM stating reporting to attorney general. She answered on CB. provided an address 90 W 500 S, Suite 364, Bountiful, Utah 84010. then she hung up when I asked for direct line not 866.Researched address its a UPS Store! Not a business or official office of Washington County. CB and LVM stating due to unprofessional nature of call leads me to believe scam. Advised TS I will be reporting information provided to FTC, Attorney General and filing scam report with local officials in Bountiful to investigate fraud activity using UPS Store PO Box. Stated I was officially notifying her to remove my and family members numbers from her solicitation list unless she wanted legal action filed on her behalf.


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