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Is that debt collector for real?

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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 got a call from same number as Donna H. - 888-202-2336. except he said his name was "Brian Schultz." He was quite threatening but never wanted to exactly state what he was calling about.

I just received a call from a representative for a company called National Mediation and Arbitration Services. I was told that there was legal action pending against me and that I still had time to settle. After leaving me a message previously, they called my wife to look for me AND my mother. When I spoke to the person today (received another call), person I spoke to said that they were collecting debt on an account I had closed nearly 10-12 years ago. I was told they were in litigation, I had said that I hadn’t been served, the lady on the phone said because they were out looking for me. She asked if I had proof the account has been paid off, I said yes, then she said “then you’re fine.” Once I realized that the call wasn’t going anywhere else, I told her that they can stop calling to try and collect money on a closed account and to cease & desist, she immediately hung up. Phone number was (678) 834-0571, out of Atlanta, Georgia.

I received a phone call on Friday 4/19/19 from a woman named Passion Cortez, claiming to be an arbitrator with Watson & Stephens Associates of Murietta CA, telling me that there is a judgement out against me for an outstanding balance with Verizon Communications for the amount of $1256.85 for service from 2001-2005 and that since I hadn't responded to any of their communications (I have never received anything from them), they were going to give me one last chance to pay before they send someone to my work and serve me with a wage attachment and they would take 25% of my income from any job I currently have. I was at work when she called and when I told her that, she said that it was fine if I didn't continue the call, but she would be unable to stop the process and I would be responsible for additional court fees and penalties. So, I stayed on the phone with her, but she was talking so fast that I kept asking her to repeat herself and she was getting very angry, which of course made me very nervous, and she told me it didn't matter to her if I worked with her, because it was my personal finances that were going to be taken, not hers. I asked her if she was with a collection agency and she adamantly So, I told her that I didn't think it was legal to collect a debt that was 14 years old and she told me that the statute of limitations was changed this year and there is no limit on the length of time they are allowed to collect. So, I told her if I owe it then I guess I would have to pay but that I was not able to pay the entire amount. She put me on hold and came back on the phone a few minutes later and told me that they would settle the account for 6 monthly payments of $159.79, but the first payment had to be made right then. I told her that I was not comfortable making any payments until she provided me with documentation, but she told me that there accounting department would need a few days to create the agreement and that the payment would be my promise into the agreement. I told her that I wasn't comfortable with this whole arrangement, so I would agree to send half and wait for the agreement. She sent me an email with a log in screen that made me enter in the last 4 of my social security number and that brought me to a payment screen where I clicked yes to agree to pay $79.90. She then transferred me to someone else who told me that I would be responsible to pay the 2nd half of that balance by the 29th of April and if I failed to do that, they would charge me a $35.00 per day late fee. She also said that I would be paying $159.79 on the 29th of each month for the next 5 months and again if for any reason the payment does not process, they will charge me $35.00 per day until it is processed. I was so worried about this all weekend, and I went to contact them via their website, and it has disappeared. I am not able to google them. I sent them an email to the email address they gave me on the payment slip they emailed me and I told them that I wanted written proof of the judgement and any and all correspondence on this matter. I have not had any response from them. I called the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and they told me to check to see if they are licensed to collect in the State with the Division of Banking. I checked with them and they confirmed that Watson & Stephens, or W&S Associates is not licensed in MA and therefore the transaction is not legal. I have cancelled my bank account, put a freeze on my credit, reported suspected fraud to all 3 credit reporting agencies, and will file a police report with my local police department. I hope that this will be the end of this nightmare.

Even after finding out my first and last name matched the last four of my social security number, they still would not give me any information or address to send a cease and desist letter. They wanted me to give them a couple more numbers from my social. I said they were not going to get that information and they said that I was refusing to verify who I was and that I was refusing to cooperate.

He also told me I could do cease and desist over the phone and that he would get documentation to overturn my cease and desist.

Is there anything you can tell me about these circumstances. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I posted a reply couple weeks ago but was not sure how to find my original reply. Has anyone heard of NRS Management LLC? I received a call from an Ashley requesting for me to call them back in regards to a payday loan. The initial number was a 920-252-7909, which is from Oshkosh, WI. The call back number that they wanted was from 443-572-4211, Baltimore Maryland. The VM informed me that she needed me to call her back to help her “make a decision on my behalf as she has to notarized my paperwork.” Did not leave a company name or who they were collecting for. I called back and spoke with a Danielle Murphy, who informed me that she was collecting on behalf of Riverbend Cash. I told her a year ago another “debt” collection absence had called me to collect on behalf of Riverbend Cash. She started to tell me that they were scammers. I told her I would contact my bank. After coming upon this thread, I read that they were supposed to send me a validation letter. I requested that letter and it came via email. The signature was “Sincerely Administration” with a 1-800 number. I only found out about the name of this agency because it was listed on the letter that they sent me. Today I received another phone call from Danielle Murphy telling me that if I do not respond, they were informed to “pull your case per the client’s request” and and it sent to my city and state. Any help is greatly appreciated.

The FTC article about Debt Collection has information about your rights when it comes to debt collection. It tells what to do if you think you don't owe a debt, what debt collectors are allowed to do, and more.

I get several calls a day from various spoof/scam numbers. They have all have been harassing me for YEARS, they also have been harassing and threatening all my family members and for the past 7 months they have been harassing my girlfriends family.

432-217-6813 5/15/19 6:22pm
202-318-1713 5/15/19 11am - Refused to give me their name and address. But threatened to garnish my paycheck. Then asked me if I still use Bank Of America. - I called after hours and got a voicemail that said her name was Debra Lawrence with Processing Division. - Called them back today 5/16/19 Kara answered the phone and told me this company name is POS Legal Services. I will continue calling them until they give me a physical address.
202-754-8971 4/30/19 12:02pm - Tells me to call back 402-382-7932 leaves threatening voicemails that there's a judgment issued against me if I don't call back there going to have me arrested at my job or home.
202-754-8971 4/29/19 3:37pm
812-618-9858 4/29/19 1:45pm
360-667-6647 10/29/18 4:34pm

I got the same calls today, and have been getting them.
Same Debra (Deborah?) Lawrence.

I received a call from this company today from 909-583-1065 regarding some sort of mediation?? Then was asked to call back a different number completely?? 833-568-7240

This just happened to me for a debt my son supposedly had. First, I don't know how they got my phone number. The call originally came from Oshkosh, WI and I answered it as I'm from WI and thought it might be a work related issue. Then, I get this rude person stating my son owed a debt from 2014 and he would be taking him to court, on behalf of his client, without payment. My son is in the hospital and could barely hold the phone to speak with him due to injury. At one point the phone went dead and the man called back and stated he would proceed with court based on the fact that my son hung up. I explained what was going on and he continued to be menacing and threatening. He said he would send me a document and I had until today to make a decision. I explained that I would try to view the document in between doctor and PT visits in my son's room. I received an email that was some type of generic letter and the company was in Maryland. The man, "Jeff Goldstein" told me I could look up his number on my cell phone as he didn't have access to his own number. Shortly after, I noticed a call from AT&T Alert: Fraud Risk. I had been unable to answer that as the physical therapists were in the room with my son. I believe this to be a scam and will file a complaint with FTC and CFPB.

I keep getting calls from this number and threatening me about a payday loan that I owe in 2018. Her name was Miranda and she said that if I didn't pay they will serve me and i already have a file charge claim #48431. They called me from this numbers +5265477966, +16265445693, 8002856271. I don't really know if it's legit or a scam.

So, it looks like this is happening again. I’ve never experienced it until two weeks ago when a woman called me and said I owed money and spit out a company name super fast; called from another state. She claimed they had already sent me a letter yet I have not received anything nor do I currently have any outstanding debts. She said they were going to garnish my wages, contact my bank and garnish them like up to 25% and start taking any assets I own. Anyway, by the end of the call, I was mad and I did call her a scammer a few times. After I hung up on her and cooled down, I realized I had been baited and it was a scam. Fast forward to today, a Saturday, and I get a call from a Chicago Heights, IL number - 708-833-7352. He left a message that said his name was “Leland Gray,” and he was calling from the “processing division of Solomon, David and Associates,” and he was notifying me that there was a matter “set for resolution on Monday at 10am” from a “Monogram Credit Card” for “breach of contract.” On Monday, they would be contacting my county offices and the payroll department at my job. I am assuming he mentioned contacting those places about getting my assets and garnishing my wages. Anyway, he told me to call 1-888-528-9709 and left a reference number. At the end he stated my name for the third time, and said “you have been given constructive notice.” After the call, I have to admit, I was a little freaked out because I thought maybe someone had stolen my identity and open credit somewhere, but I check my credit report regularly so that just didn’t make sense to me. So, I did some research and found this article, and many of the situations mentioned in the comments sound the same as mine. I am more eased about the situation, but I am still not sure how to prevent them from calling, and it has me wondering how much of my information is out there.

They are at it again my carrier recognizes them as spam and blocks them. I have had 40+ calls blocked from them. They need to be jailed. Scary thing is wondering how many have fallen for it.

I received call from Cynthia Walker threatening me over a so calked 9 year old company name.called from 2028005518 ext 3004 case # 133460..charging my debit card 50.00 month cause if didn't agree said i would have to go to court..i have cancer and almost 70 years old..recently had stroke..very ill..that didn't matter to her

Received a call today from 4705020220 sang look there's a pending legal mediation case against me and the state of Pennsylvania from a pay day loan back in 2012 threatening me that I need to pay or will be arrested

I got a call from a guy named Brandon Adams saying he is the director of operations for J.W Associates he stated that he has a matter in his office and that they are scheduling a dismissal of a case. He also stated that I alleged to waive my rights and he was wanting to know what my input was on the case that has been forward to his desk that he has to make a final decision on. He called from 716 587 8132 number located in Buffalo, New York. These guys are debt collectors and they are in violation of FDCPA leaving name on voice mail and bogus information as a scare method for a response.

Yes, I received a call from my cell and work# from a Donald Harris from a law firm, 866-259-6775 with threats of serving me papers. He did not provide the name of the law firm. Ask that I call him back to discuss this matter. When asked the name of his law firm, caller hung up on me.

Got a call today from a legit number to Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami FL. I didn't answer but the voicemail said there is a legal issue attached to my social security number for fraudulent charges. When I call the number back, it goes right to the actual hospital. Sounds like the scammers are using a phone number matching software for when people google the phone number it looks legit. Of course when you call the hospital, they say what? no, we don't send out automated voicemails like that. This is exactly why I do not answer calls from out of state numbers or numbers that I do not recognize.

Glad I searched... Jennifer Larson from IRC Processing called me this morning about a debt for my mother. I didn't pass it along once I read this.

It seems sketchy.....#800-270-9685 is a federal bureau of investigation from Maryland. The agent never said my name nor his name or id number, just left a voicemail saying he is a debt collector. Have no mortgage, car payments or such. Only thing I have is student loans, which I'm paying off. Already contact my bank, they said nothing is wrong on my account. So is it a scam?

I am receiving emails from accrual inquiry llc. They are telling me they will take me to court if I don't pay a loan I had taken out in Nov. But I have never taken out any loans. I ask them for a phone number and they respond with we only communicate through emails. Is this company a real one or a fake. I looked it up on Google and nothing shows up for them. What do I do.

They just called me, threatened to call my job and have me fired... (self employed so let’s see how that one goes for them lol)
Told me they were going to be filing documents at 2 pm and have me arrested before the end of the day... than proceeded to tell me that the debt was past the statute of limitations and the only way a payday loan company could collect would be to charge the person criminally with an attempt to defraud... right... ever heard of a civil lawsuit? Kept telling me I had an account with Wachovia... (nope never had any account with them) I’m like “lady, your not a employee nor agent or the state, any lawyer or legal representative knows that your case isn’t going to hold up and check n go isn’t an actual bank, I have yet to receive any sort of documentation so as far as I know your phone call over something 8years ago is null and void, I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast last week let alone some payday advance from 8 years ago, I suggest you call my attorney cause I got stuff to do”
(In reality I would have paid the bill if they would have called me up, been nice, friendly and had a completely different approach, when they call with accusations and threats it makes it sound like a scam so I held off)

I keep getting emails from Accrual Inquiry, LLC, no phone number or mailing address, stating I owe money to someone. Stated email was the only way of contact with them. Has anyone else had this problem?

I just received a email rom Andrew law firm stating I owed 850 by Friday and I took a loan out in 2018. It was for parental payday loans. I’ve never heard of them and I have never received any emails phone calls or bills . What do I do

I received a voicemail from Donald Harris saying that he had sensitive information for me and gave a case number 79-5112. Said that I needed to respond or he would send a summons to my home and/or work. Gave the phone number 866-259-6775. Also called my former daughter in law and left the exact same message for me on her voicemail. An obvious scam! Never dignify these shady calls with a response!!!!!!

I received a voicemail from a gentleman who did not leave his name. All he said is that I need to respond or he would send a summons to my home or my work and that he was part of a firm but didn't mention a name of the firm. He also called my work number and left the same message. He left number 866-259-6775 and referenced court docket number 76-4626. I believe this is a fraudulent caller. Leaving no name or firm name makes me very suspicious.

386-237-6865 - Person calls three times in a row then calls place of business. Calls every few months till you threaten them. They stop for a month and start up again.

I just got a email from a Andrew law firm saying I owe $1385.32 to cash advance cashnet USA and speedy Cash but if I pay today it be $850.00 or email to make arrange payments be $900.32 I honestly don't owe know what to do this is like the 5th or more email but in like 4months

I received the same thing yesterday. It didnt state a company just the same exact amounts and didn’t even state my name just said debtor.

I got the same thing from Andrew Law Firm but states no address no phone number and they only want to be contacted by email to settle the debt. Same 850 they want in 2 payments. Heck no. That's why we should be cautious of what information we give permission to to companies to share.

Same thing just happened to me today says no information about who i owe money too no company name address phone number doesn’t even state my first or last name just three different payment options and that ima goto jail if I don’t pay them and I honestly believe its a scam because I know for a fact i don’t owe anybody a loan because I can’t even get one without a cosigner and ion even got one of those either so this is a huge problem because how did they get my email an has anything happened to anybody account after this email because i don’t have time for anther problem while covid is going on

I’ve been getting daily calls from a company called Legal Support Services this week, as have family members. The caller identified themself as Lisa. They’ve been calling from a VOIP number - (202) 971-8443‬ threatening to move forward with legal action as they have not been able to deliver certified documents to my home or place of employment. The first said I had 48 hours to contact them, the second said 24 and the last said they were moving forward without me. The messages say to call back an 844 number and reference a specific case number.

They are not calling but contacting me via email and I have no idea what they are talking about. I don't have any payday loan.

I am being harassed by email about a debt I know nothing about from Andrew Law Firm. They are very aggressive and I have explained in my email I don’t know what they are talking about but I keep being told if I don’t pay I will have to go to court fraud! I have asked for information about this loan I was supposedly supposed to know about and they keep telling me they are basically going to put me in jail for fraud!
It is not like other emails with the phone numbers and address. I have sent several emails asking and nothing!
The last email I got at the end it said it was from William Smith Senior Investigating Officer
Had all these numbers :
1st email Case File #CA/55A/95-38654 then in a second email it was a different case file number
Case File# AM/78A/98
I still cannot get any information from them about this debt! I have taken out loans before and all those companies send emails and in those emails you have all the ways to contact them if needed and these emails don’t have any of that. The person is just being aggressive about me paying on something I have no clue what or it was through! How is this even legal?

IRC is calling to scam my daughter..... they ask for my email and other information while refusing to give me their info.

I had gotten a call two weeks ago from unknown number saying that they were going to serve me papers and to be available between 1pm and 3 pm so I waited and no one showed. Then they called this week saying same thing. Never showed again. Today I get a voicemail from a law firm saying I was facing court if I did not respond for a collection matter and that I needed to call because the process server failed to deliver the papers. The caller ID showed a Kansas number but the return number they left was for a number in a city just north of me in my state. I am not sure if I am being scammed and worried if I call that number I will open myself up to a whole different problem. Any ideas?

This place called me about a pay day loan and threated to take me to court and they had a lot of information dont know how they got my cell phone number or the information they had they were rude and threatened me about a payday loan


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