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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 have received several calls from a Phoenix, Arizona number claiming I owed money on a credit card debt which was dismissed in Federal Bankruptcy Court 14 years ago. The call begins with an auto message claiming to be an attorney and asking for me by name. The message says if I do not press 9 to speak to a representative immediately I will be subjected to a warrant being issued for my arrest. I knew this was a scam for three reasons:

1) You can not be arrested for an outstanding credit card debt, or debt of any kind unless it is mandated by a court. We don't have Debtors prisons in the US.

2) It is illegal to threaten someone with criminal action for a debt in the US.

3) Arizona has a statute of limitations on past due debts and civil suits which this is well out of.

I pressed 9 to get the information, spoke to a Miss Johnson, and explained this to her, as well as telling her I had contacted my attorney and to direct all futures communications to him. I was told by her because I refused to pay the matter was being sent to council and I would be arrested. She finished the conversation with "Good Luck," before hanging up.

I contacted the Scottsdale, AZ police to verify that it is legakl in Arizona to record telephone conversations without the knowledge of both parties and they confirmed this. (AZ is a single party knowledge state meaning that as long as one party knows the conversation is being recorded, in this case me, it is legal.) I did a look-up[ on the number calling me and it traced back to HSBCBank, which does not have offices in AZ. I contacted the Fraud Dept. at HSBC and verified that this was not a legitimate number for them. I also contacted the alleged creditor, Plains Commerce Bank and they verified the account was dismissed in bankruptcy and nothing was owed nor was it sent to collections. I downloaded an ap to record future conversations from this "collection agency" and will go to the Scottsdale Police with the recording as well as the information I have gotten.

Don't be taken in by people like this. They are co artists and scammers preying upon people's fears.

I have been continually harassed by Delaware Solutions, ARG Group and Greenline Recovery trying to collect on a debt that I do not owe. I've never done business with them. I have filed all the complaints I could. But they still contact me daily and all my relatives. Currently I'm in contact with an attorney and I hoping to sue them.

They have started contacting me also out of the blue. Claiming to be Grrenline Recovery for a Payday loan I supposdly applied for in 2010!! They are calling my cell and my work # daily now. I have no debt and owe no one anything. Would be happy to join your lawsuit!

I have started receiving calls form a Joshua David from Greenline Recovery stating I owe for a Payday Loan that I applied for (no) in 2010 and never paid the application fee. States my $30 application has now turned into $670 and if I dont pay I will get served papers and owe or $2000. He wanted my credit card or debit #, had my SSN and an old PO box that I havent had in 5+ years. Also has my work e mail. When I insisted on speaking with a lawyer he asked for my card #. he didnt have any cleanr information on the exact date, told me the company was called Fast Cash but that they probably changed their name by now. He has left 2 different toll free #'s to call 844-780-6774 and 855-219-4664. Neither # has any formal voice system or customer service department. Also notice there is no disclaimer about the phone calls being recorded!!! I have been in customer service fore years. SCAM. Every legit customer service records every call and MUST give you a disclaimer about it. Also, I was not able to locate any Green line recovery service website, they would not take a check. I have reported this so my Attrony generals office as well.

Got scammed today, this guy called my son he was going to be arrested in 30 minutes unless this was all paid off !! I called the number provided, he said he was an Attorney from the general office and another guy called my Son asking for his location so he could go there and arrest him !! My son went crazy and asked me for help, and I felt for it !! Never in my life got scammed !! This guy sound very serious and knew a lot about my son !! I paid $1865 and only realized this was a scam after he told me that another charges where filed and had to pay another $2000'! So sad that right before Christmas I felt for this horrible scam !!

It is so funny I just received a phone call from 210 418 4797 from agent X with very thick accent who said that for 2008-09 unpaid taxes I am going to be arrested in 30 minutes of course when we talked he hang up than I called few times massaging system was not working anymore therefore no name to obtain and always someone picks and hangs up instantly. All this cuz I allegedly owe $2,600, nice trick! Obviously I do not owe anything and I have never received anything from IRS

Did anyone get a call from 386.269.9396? They called my moms phone recently and threatening to take anything i own and the caller is very suspicious because she asks for my social security number. Like I'll give it to her and the phone says it is from STP PROCESSING in Lake City, Florida.

So this Liz Montgomery called my parents saying that she can have me arrested and it's totally bogus. She called from an 844 number which yields no results. She also claimed to have all my information yet I have never heard from her nor have I been served with any papers. In California you can not go to jail for unpaid debt unless it's child support, or unless there is a judgment against you. In order for there to be a judgment though they would have to sue you first.

Receiving phone calls from a private caller. Not saying where he is from. Last name Meyers I believe. Stating someone is coming to my work and home and I need to be ready to show my ID Monday December 29th. It's court papers I don't know what for. I also received nasty emails to about jail. .. Tired of this.

My Mother and Brother received a call from "Steven Lewis senior litigator of the ARG Law Firm". Said there were a couple charges pending against me. Left another message stating it was bank fraud. That was a relief I'm not guilty of bank fraud. So I blocked his numbers, reported it as a scam number on websites that you can do that sort of thing and reported him to the FTC here. His numbers were 716-646-8030 and 716-941-1006.

I received a call from a joe clark from a legal disrtrabution service from a 210-774-4146. claims he is calling about a legal summons. its a scam. they don't call you about a summons. im not stupid. he better not call back.

I get calls about this all day long every day. My husband and parents are now getting them too. My parents keep thinking I'm going to jail and are freaking out. I file complaint after complaint with every agency there is and the calls have never STOPED . I've got over 50 phone numbers blocked on my phone. It's ridiculous

Got a call from an unknown number, not the first time. They left a message:

"This call is solely for ____________; this is Sarah Bennett and I work for National Process Servers for their filing department, I am calling today in reference to 2 felony complaints that were placed with our offices this morning. I have have retained both files with the charges to the District Attorney's Offices, the office of Round tree &" (breaks up) "documents and was legally assisting you to voluntarily resolve this matter outside of court proceedings, they say that they have made several failed attempts to make contact with you at this point I will be filing the 2 felony charges and requesting that the county sheriff's department to accompany and assists me to your residence and/or to your place of employment, if I reach you at home please be advised that if you own any dogs or fire arms they will need to be out of the immediate harms way of myself and the police officers as well. At the time of my arrival please have proper identification. if you have any questions or concerns, or feel you have received this message in error you must contact the office of Round tree & Meyer's directly to have a stop order placed on your file, if you have your pre-trail investigator email my office your court release number is 678-212-5481, Again that number was 678-222-5481. ma'am you have been legally notified in accordance to all federal and state laws. Thank you, Have a Great day!"

Upon calling the number provided, which she did make a mistake on, I was sent to a Voice Mail box for Richard Campbell a Senior Arbitrator for Legal Consultant Services. No where did he mention the name of the company, I did not leave a message but I will be calling again to request paper work and an account number or anything that they could have to identify any of this information.

BEWARE I have been researching this in many places and there is no confirmation that this is a legitimate company or charges.

I am getting calls from a Mediation Services. They initially said the same as yours however now they are saying they are filing a lawsuit against me. They will not tell me what for and I have never received any paperwork from them.

I recently start gettng calls from 7863294283 florida legal Mediation firm /Ron Perez Assocation/new grant financil two charges against me for payday loans and the sheriffs are already n place for my arrest i can get 5-10 yrs or pay 10,000 in fines . and payment due today .. but never recvied any paper work from them emails nothng but they have all my info.. HELP

Ignore them, report them to the FTC, you can call the Sheriff's office, they won't do anything though

Try reading the article, and the FDCPA, and what the FTC has said repeatedly. Consumer debt is a *civil concern*. Local police do not work for debt collectors and are much too busy handling actual crime to care about some penny-ante debt claim.

What you do is find the bullies on the phone and sue them for making ridiculous and illegal threats.

Tired of these scammers calling me, claiming they are investigating check fraud in CA, but yet caller ID gives them up to be calling from NY, MI or GA- the latest number- 470-202-7379. They ask me stuff, volunteering the last 4 social sec numbers, and I say...Nope no match (cos it don't). How do they get our names & phone numbers? This is bull!

My employer received 2 calls today asking for employment verification and had my SS #!!! I have applied for nothing that would require that.....I'm sketched out....messages left and thank God, my employer said they would not disclose ANY made from "Employment Verification Services"????

I've taken payday loans out before. I've repaid and worked out settlement offers on others.
However, all of a sudden I'm getting calls from Lawyers Offices in NY and CA. I live in TX.
They're saying my county has papers and a summons for me to go to court. That I either need to settle or pay offy debts. I honestly can't even remember the names of these places that I aupposedly owe money to. The law firms I looked up were legit. So I am assuming this is real...
Is there anyway I can see all loans I've ever taken out and their status on them? It's not fair that every month another new collector is calling and from another location. If you ARE delinquent can they arrest you?

It's highly unlikely creditors would hire an attorney out of your state. Also, just because the scam artists are using "legit" law firm names, don't think for a minute they're actually representing that firm. I have a co-worker that was contacted by one of these "law firms" and when I looked it up for her, the company had a disclaimer right on their home page that they are in no way affiliated with these scam artists.

Also, if these are legit debts owed, the law firms will have no problems forwarding you the documents pertaining to said debt. If they refuse or "can't" assume this is a scam.

Any debt collector that threatens to immediately arrest if you don’t pay up is violating federal law.This article has information about your rights when you're dealing with debt collectors.

Has anyone heard of a company called National Payment Solutions New York llc? Number is a 855 area code stating I owe a payday loan.

I just received a call from an unknown number saying he is with the Texas State Police Department and I have fraudulent charges against my name. I need to sit myself down to the closest police department or call an Officer Brian 'O Connor at 347-501-9802 to discuss this matter. Then he states if I don't call within 45 minutes he will send an officer to my house and place of employment for my arrest. He doesn't give what kind of charges or any other information. The number is a Brooklyn number. What do I do as they called unknown?

I also got calls this week from Ron Perez and Associates in Florida saying I owed a payday loan from New Grant Funding, and demanding payment. They said I was being charged with two counts of fraud and about to be arrested. Also, they had ALL my personal info already including SSN, DL, work, email, address, phone, etc. SCARY!!

received a call from a Mrs. Jones from 617-939-0637 they called my house my mother (3 times) and my sister (3 times) they left a case number MD11860 and said that criminal charges are being filed and I will need to call them before I am served either at my home or work..

Receiving repeated phone calls from Jerry with CM Location Services from the number 210-625-4108. He always claims to have "important legal documents" to deliver to me, but feigns ignorance as to their content or issuing party. He demands to know when I will be available to receive them. I tell him to come on over anytime and he angrily demands that I make myself available during a specified 2-hour window. I told him I had another obligation during the stated time and he became even angrier and levied threats of "legal repercussions" if I am not available to receive the documents. He further threatens me saying he has "legal authority" to "take action" for refusing to be home to sign for the documents. I pressure him for information on his employer and the nature of his business and he becomes extremely evasive, but provides the number 855-546-9078 and instructs me to call and refer to document 1098598. I called the number and it is a bogus contact. Jerry called again today and demanded to know why I would not be home between 3-5pm. I told him that was frankly none of his business. He resumed threatening me and stated that I had a "legal obligation" to disclose my whereabouts. At this point, I am hoping Jerry shows up at my doorstep just so I can demonstrate how I respond to being threatened.

The are at it again!!! I received a call today from 786-629-9121. They called all day. So when I called them back to see what this was regarding the man on the phone with a heavy accent answered and asked if this is Michelle I asked why he kept calling me as if he was a bill collector he laughed and stated that at first he was calling to see if I needed a loan then started saying I had taken a loan out in June of last year in the amount of $3000 that I had defaulted on and needed to pay immediately.

Received a call from unknown number. Anthony Phillips paralegal from Proctor, Robinson, Eggelman and associations arbitration law firm. Contacting me regarding a civil criminal (??) issue regarding check fraud. A case will be filed against me in my cities court on Friday, January 23rd. I have 24 hours to respond to his message to try to solve the matter. Google search of that law firm does not exist. I have received many different "arbitration" firms contacting me regarding a pay day loan they say I took out in 2011. Will try to call the number back they left 844-332-7018 to see what its all about. Sounds like a SCAM so beware!

I received a call today from a "processor" Antoine Davis saying he went to my residence this morning. He left a number 617-207-9001. I called and they said I owed on a payday loan and he was a mediator and that if I don't pay $830 in two days, they will proceed with three counts of federal charges because I received an ach wire transfer to my account and defaulted. Not sure is anyone else has received these calls? They said it's an old loan from 2013

440-220-6017 & 440-202-1714...same scam. Stated I had a payday loan (which I never have done). Threatened that I was going to be arrested - as soon as I laughed and told her to go right ahead and proceed, she hung up.

I recieved a call today from 5753421204 They said they couldnt send me anyinfo or email because they already did. I asked if I can send them a payment threw the mail and they said they cant accept payment threw mail. I told them I dont have a card. She said to go buy a pre paid card and she was only going to give me to hours or I am admitting I am gilty and have to go to court. She new all my info and my court house name and said something of the department of labor she was so hard to understanf

I received a call for my son telling me they were filing 3 felony charges against him and to have him contact a Mallory Thorten. He called and they had his ss# along with other info. They threatened him and then asked him to go to Bank of America and put money into a account. This I have never heard of,so I called them and started asking questions about their tactics and wanted the company name and was told it was arbitrary with the state and when I questioned more I was hung up on...Has to be a scam!

Well this makes me rest a little easier. I JUST checked my voicemail (first time in a week) and had a recorded message from the "Dept. of Treasury" regarding a warrant under my mine. My first thought was...."Well just who do they think they are talking to?" Then they requested that I call back but the number was a botched computerized voice and couldn't be understood. I do believe it STARTED with 240 and ENDED with 7164. Asked me to ask to speak with a Shawn Ferguson Batch #9117086. SOOOOO it appears they are at it again! It would have scared the BEJESUS out of me had someone called about a week ago, an ACTUAL PERSON, and left almost the same type of message and saying they were faxing the warrants. So....I kind of had a heads up. But it is TAX Season and I really HATE to see how many people may get SCAMMED by these lowlifes which appear to be very determined and somewhat resourceful enough to sound legitimate to the untrained ear,someone who just got scared briefly listening to them or an elderly or disabled person. We all need to report this to a local news station/radio station or other reputable form of media so that people can be warned.

Just had a phone call today from 866-209-4952. Left message stating she was from United Legal Services. Stating she had to file claims faxed to her office this morning. Said, I needed to call her back regarding this. She also stated that the sheriffs department and her would be coming to my home or place of employment and take care of it. At the end she said, Melissa you have been officially notified by state and federal laws. I did have payday loans but they are paid off in full. What can I do?

I been getting call s from a number that comes out private and they leave me a VM stating to return there call to 8662396448 and if I don't pay them by 6pm they will send me to court and I will have to pay 1200 My loan was for $250 back in 2013 almost 2 years ago they want 3 payments of 210 what should I do please help they. call my job house even my mom house I asks them for something in writing and I'm willing to pay but they refuse please help me

I got an email today saying that I owe taxes and that I was going to jail. First the number attached is a Florida area code second They used irs paper with the irs website. However I do not owe anything. The only thing I owe are a few payday loans. I live in pa should I be worried or is this false documentation? If I owe the irs when I filed my taxes they woiuld know then.

I have been receiving calls at all hours of the day from a male voice with a heavy middle Eastern accent claiming to be several names like , "Chris Brown, James Brown, Will Smith,James brown John Smith" etc. He has claimed that he is calling from US bank, Advance America , (us bank which is my own bank), the Irs , the local sheriffs office in my state the district attorney's office etc. He begins with this statement. "This message is intended for (my name) it is very important that I call (a number) immediately or there will be extreme consequences if you don't respond. I wish you the best of luck. I called the number on NY caller ID , and there was a lot of background noise . someone answered with National cash advance , i asked for chris brown from us bank . I told him that the message stated that he was from US Bank and he said " I mean us bank may I help you ! I proceeded with telling him what I thought about his fraudulent calling in my own angry words and he hung up. Now I get calls from numbers with fax tones on my voice mails. This is very annoying . I wish I ciujd do something to these people to make them stop.

and local numbers within my state are being used. They called me and threatened me with prison saying i had to make a statement or they will file the paperwork to sue me. They said I had to pay 900 appx and would not make any payment agreements. I was suckered at first but then found out what they were collecting on was a debt i already paid. They took my whole paycheck. Thankfully the bank reversed it for me and changed my account numbers because it was fraud. Now they are calling again saying that since I didn't pay, they need a statement before they file the order. It is scary they work through people in my own state with local phone numbers as well. I am sick and tired of these people calling my mom, my cell, my job making threats. These people need to be stopped. I block the numbers but they just call with new ones. I tell them to stop calling and they do anyways. They fooled me once, not this time.

I just received a phone call this me from a Georgia number. They left me a voice mail with my name and a complaint number. I decided to called them back and asked what was the complaint about. They guy Gaved me some info and hung up on me. I called back and this time it was a lady. She gave me my last 4 social and told me I owe over 500.00 for first bank. I told her I never even bank with them before. She then told me, well good luck because I will be getting serve soon. And to make sure I have double the amount of money that owe because court fees and attorney fees will apply. Then she hangs up on me. I called back the 3rd Time, I was so pissed and confused. I explained again that there must be a mistake. She said that it can't be because it has my signature and all the transaction I made on this credit card. And she said good luck and hangs up. Should I be worried.

I received calls from same stupid how. Georgia number 470-238-0191. Fraudulent misrepresentations. Woman barely spoke proper English and her message said good luck also. I called back and left screaming message in her machine. Still waiting for the scum to send me something in writing. Hahaga!

I have an unknown number that calls and tells me they will be coming to my house with a court summons. There has been a number of violent home invasions in our neighborhood lately. I am home alone with my two year old. My husband has told me to never answer the door no matter what they say. If it is real, can I get in trouble for refusing to open without a police officer present?

I received an inaudible voice mail message from phone number 614-385-7074. Upon returning the call a snotty woman answered and was very short. I asked her for information about why I was called to which she responded by abruptly transferring me to Jennifer Myers, who was a complete pain to speak with. She stated that she is with "Litigation Support Group" and that a company named "Net Loan USA" had filed three criminal complaints against me for an unpaid loan. She stated that notifications had been sent to a mailing address that I haven't been associated with for over two years. First, I've never used Net Loan USA, nor have I heard of that company prior to today. Jennifer stated that I was going to be arrested, jailed, and that I'd need to hire a criminal defense attorney. I asked her to send me information to my current address. She stated that she could not do that, as it is illegal and falls under "defamation of character". It didn't make much sense to me. She became more irate with me each time I requested more details, and asked me to have an attorney call her back on her direct line at 614-407-0849. I will admit that they got the best of me; I did freak out when I heard that I was going to jail, so I left work abruptly and came home to consult an attorney. After speaking with an attorney, a bail bondsman, and a few friends, it appears that I'm not the only one who has received phone calls like this. I won't be falling for this again!

glad you posted this as she was quite polite and almost got me.

Has anyone received calls from 855-243-4323 or 813-413-4006. They state their name is a Ms. Brown and they are calling from Genuine recovery services. I cannot find any information about this company or phone numbers.

Hi - I just received the exact same call from a Ms. Brown. Did they ever stop calling you? Did they ever serve you papers? I am curious to know because they have contacted me several times and have even threatened me with wage garnishment.

I still get calls from them over a "returned bank check" and they even tried to call my dad telling him he was responsible! I have them blocked on my phone but every week or two they have a new number.

I have had the phone calls last year, now emails this year. And just got a call from a "Currier who wants to serve me papers" and was on their way unless I called a number to the complaint. I told him bring them on. That was two hrs ago and no papers yet. Tired of this crap!!!!!

Hello I need your help!! Back in 2012 I took out 2 payday loan online of $300 today I recieved an unknown number a man told me that he was calling from career services something like that and that I was being served and that he had a deputy outside of my house. I was at work freaking out but then again if you are being "sued" or "served" the person is not going to call you and give you a courtesy call they going to just hand deliever it at work or home... They told me to call this 855 692 4359 number I called and they told me that my "case" is not filed... But then again they told me for me to be free I would need to pay $700 to not be bothered again... Please help someone

If you took out a loan and didn't pay it, it is possible that the debt was sent out for collection. But, federal law prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you. 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 article has information about your rights when you're dealing with debt collectors.


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