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Stop a debt collector’s empty threats

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Calls from debt collectors can add to the stress of having financial problems. When those calls involve harassment, threats and intimidation, the situation can get even worse — especially if you don’t know your rights.

The FTC enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to protect consumers from deceptive, abusive, or unfair debt collection tactics. On June 23, 2014, the FTC filed a joint complaint with the State of New York against National Check Registry for violating the FDCPA by allegedly using outrageous and intimidating methods to get people to pay debts immediately — often debts that were in dispute.

Among the alleged tactics that National Check Registry used was telling people they had committed check fraud or another crime and threatening them with lawsuits, garnishments, arrest or imprisonment if they didn’t pay. The FTC and the State of New York alleged that National Check Registry routinely told people they had to pay within 12 or 24 hours to avoid having a local court system or law enforcement agency come after them. Frequently, the company would tell a person’s family, friends and coworkers that the person committed a crime or was involved in a legal proceeding.


In fact, these were empty threats. According to the complaint, National Check Registry has no authority to make arrests or seek other criminal punishments for failure to pay these debts.  


If you are facing debt collection, understand your rights. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not allowed to:

  • call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • contact you at work if you’ve told them verbally or in writing that your employer doesn’t allow you to get such calls in the workplace
  • harass or abuse you or anyone else they contact about you
  • lie about the amount you owe
  • use deceptive methods to collect a debt from you. For example, they may not:
    • falsely claim to be law enforcement officers
    • claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt
    • threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or your wages — unless they are permitted by law to do it and intend to do so
    • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company
    • use a fake company name

Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. Other than to obtain location information about you, a debt collector generally is not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse or your attorney.

Be sure to file a complaint with the FTC if you think that a debt collector has violated your rights.


Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Thank You Much




I just received an ACS threat about a payday loan. I made NO such transaction.

I also received a very threatening email stating jail time of 3 years and thousand dollars in fines. I do have a check loan but they don't even say who it's with and check loans on line are a violation on section 5 of the federal Trad commission. UDAAP violations. I also have a loan assistance group contacting and making arrangements for payment. This is a scam. Don't respond!!!

Ive been getting calls from this lady rhonda about a payday loan that i dont even remember signing up for and says i owe $600 and threatening to have a sheriff officer come and serve me for court

I had the same thing happen, and they also told me they would put a lien on my car..has a sheriff served you ?

Not a chance and they never will. These places are straight-up scams and you probably never took out a loan connected to anyone these people know/work with. They simply buy your name and social from payday loan application pages, assume you probably took out a loan from somewhere and wouldn't remember the name of the company, and then try to scam money from you. No sheriff in any city in the world would ever take time out of their insanely busy days to serve court papers for some little payday loan debt- they could care less. Don't give these scumbags the time of day!

I am also getting a call about a company Personal Cash Advance is trying to collect a loan that they say they tranferred to my bank in Dec 2012. This never happened but I am being told that if I dont' make a payment arrangement I will be served court papers and will have to get a lawyer. I know its a scam but they have me scared.

OMG I had somebody calling me saying it was electronic payday loan I received in 2012 into my account and I wrote a bad check to pay it off lmao. They have threatened me told me to get a attorney so I had my HR personnel call for me and they kept hanging up on her because she was asking them to show proof of the transaction or something in writing the case number something and they say just get a attorney they will deal with it in court and the courts will have the "documentation" and hung up again so don't worry I was scared as hell that's why I had somebody call to be my "attorney" I know I don't have a payday loan but ok ill sit here and wait on my "summons" or the paperwork to start garnishing my wages...a real payday loan company definitely aint gone wait 4 years they get you within the 1st 6 months the number they calling me from is 8594020778 talking about legal services that's all the info they would give me

Report your situation to the FCC and get police report just so they have. If they say to you they sending sheriff, tell them ho ahead or you to collections. You then tell them you want papers that you signed for the loan and address where to send payment then foward that to your local authority. They will investigate the matter. They will stop when they he as r you demanding the above. I went through same situations. Always, If you do not recoqnize phone number or e-mail. Don't answer. Let them leave message.

These folks keep calling me saying that they are ucrb and that they have my number and social security number is this a scam

I just got the same thing!! Saying that I co signed on a payday loan in 2010 with my ex and that I have till tonight to pay something or else she’s going to file paperwork for a warrant in night court?!? Seriously?? And then she proceeded to say that my ex paid his half and had nothing but sweet things to say about me (LIE! We are in a bitter custody battle) so she placed me on hold and I hung up!

Look at your states statue of limitations. Normal 4 to 5 years, they cant sue you, just keep contacting to collect the debt. Tell them to send you proof you co signed anything.

I am trying to work out a problem with Target Credit card, I have notified the attorney general in Boston/Lawrence area for me. waiting for response. What can I do with that still standing on my credit report. $84. How can I assure that my credit that is cleared up is noted on my 3 credit score companies. It has made my life a mess. Please respond on how to clarify these facts so they reflect my good credit history of payments?.

If you find mistakes when you review your credit reports, send letters explaining the mistakes to the 3 credit reporting companies and the businesses involved. This article provides you with information about what to do and it includes sample letters you can use in your dispute.

it is ridiculous. I have gotten 3 emails today already. so tired of this garbage!!! please help

I was involved with a gift card scam with target. Although notified bank, FTC, target, and police. Target says I am liable for the full amount because it was not fraud but a scam. Bank stopped payment immediately. Worried about my credit and how it will be effected

I recently in March tried to get a loan from America Cash Payday.They called me and said I was Approved for a loan. And was told that I needed buy a green dot card put a $1OO on the card call them back and I will be receiving the money on my Visa on 15 minutes and the $5000 would be in my account. I waited for 30 minutes called them back cause it was not wired I didn't have the funds in my account. And Brian Bradley the person who was the person I talked to wasn't answering my phone calls.My Approved loan was for $5000 and when I was getting the information from him he said I could receive $10,000.Of I send another $1OO.I told him that I can't do the extra $1OO o just want to stay with the $5000.He calls me back after a week and says that I wad Approved for a $10,000 loan and I will have to pay the other $1OO.So i told him I want my mou back. and he said that I can't have the money $1OO back cause it was put on a hold until I send the other $1OO. Than I got a call from I Christine Brown and she said that they wouldn't be able to pay me back my $1OO or get the loan for $5000 wired to my account but they will be able to send r to my thru Western Union but i would have to pay the $1OO first Startzman the green dot card and I trusted her I did what was told to me. And to call her back in half hour .I waited called her back. And she said that I owed the IRS she gave me the number I called it and the man I talked to said that i had 24 hours to pay over u $1000 but since I was Approved for a loan I would just need to pay half of the thousand something to America Cash Payday and if I didn't do what he said I will be arrested with in that 24 hours. I hung up called the police and made a police report.Add till this day i still have it gotten the $200 I set them.
I also called IRS and haf no record of the man I talked to.T police officer said that it was a scam a d my IDENTITY THEFT my name and social security number was at risk. IF you are able to help me with my complaint please do.

First of all, if you haven't found this out yourself yet, the kind of loan you were offered is illegal in the United States. It's called an advance fee loan, where you are told to send an amount of money, usually with Green Dot or through Western Union, and then you will get your promised loan amount. Forget it. You will never see the money you sent in advance of receiving the loan again, let alone the loan amount you were told you would get if only you would send $100...and find they want you to send $100 more...and if you are still playing along, believing them, they'll ask you for yet again another $100...if not $200...why not $500? So long as they can string you along, they'll just keep asking you to give so you can get. Thing is, you'll never get...a thing.

Think about it: If you need a loan, how is it you are supposed to be able to pay anyone money? You NEED money, you don't have it to give out. So don't. Like I said, advance fee loans in this country at least, are totally illegal. Want to do something about it? Report the people's names you got in relation to the loan they promised you to the FTC. They can help you. No, you likely won't ever see the money they suckered out of you again. But at least you can help stop them from scamming any more people. Consider it a lesson learned, report them to the FTC, and then let it go. There isn't another thing you can do about it except learn from your mistake. Good luck!

Or you could pay your bills on time and not have to mess with them at all....

Pete you must be a "bill collector" or just have a general lack of compassion.

Pete some people fall on hard times! I guess you are so perfect you haven't! Not all people who hit hard times and fall behind are deadbeats! My husband was Injured while fighting for our country and came back and couldn't work, it took the VA 3 yrs to get our money!! We had a hard time paying our bills but that makes it ok for them to be disrespectful??!? Wow you are a heartless jerk! First off most bill collectors use illegal
Tactics! Second some are scammers!!!! So I hope go trip over a curb and break your mouth for being the world's biggest asshat!



they are calling my employer about six times I am afraid that I will loose my job for this they are threatening me with a warrant for my arrest.

You can only be arrested for a criminal offense. Not a civil offense. You are NOT considered a criminal in America if you can't or don't pay your bills. It is a civil matter only, and no one can arrest you for not paying your bills. We got rid of debtor's prisons eons ago. Don't let anybody make you believe that you can be arrested for a debt. Any debt. As to them calling you at your job, the FCRA laws clearly state that if you tell a collector that they may NOT call you at your place of employment, they must stop, or you have the right to sue them, and collect up to $1,000 for their disobeying the law. DO NOT let them get your goat over anything. Tell them that you will sue them if they EVER call you at your work again. Better yet, Google "collection agencies threats" and read for yourself the various web pages that state what collection agencies can and cannot do, and when they have broken the law. Then when they call, cite that part of the law to them, and tell them to cease as of right now, ever calling you at work again. And they must obey you, if they are to obey the law and not have to pay YOU or perhaps lose their license to exist as a collection agency forever more. Good luck!

I am still waiting for the court case against JACKSON HUNTER MORRIS AND KNIGHT debt collectors to come to give back the $5700.00 they took from me in 2012. I hope this is resolved soon.

You get them good. I've had it with abusive collectors as well as abusive attorneys acting as collectors.

Thank you so much for your web site; the information available allows me to be more confident in dealing with these robo calls and possible cheats.

Got 8-10 calls today saying I owed a payday loan. I was threatened, told he was an officer, then an investigator then an arbitrator. Threatened with court, jail etc. He screamed, I hung up, he called back.. over and over and over.

Hey Frazzled. Sounds like this could be a scammer trying rip you off. Don't give them anything.

This happened to me today! They called me and was so nasty from the beginning of the phone call saying they were going to send officials to my job. I figured it was a scam and then they called my job and my cell phone repeatedly and demanded we not put them on hold. I work in a busy mental health doctors office so I had to put them on hold at times. I’m hoping they don’t call back. I haven’t got nothing in writing on this “debt.” So scary though, they knew all my information!

My husband got a call like this July 25th they gave us a case number and he would be served papers to go to court . My husband called the number they said 844-891-8228 ,they said it was about a charge card ,he never had. They told him they couldn't help him then, they would see him in court. Are these practices legal or scams .

I just received a call like this today and I'm not sure what to do next. I haven't been served any papers yet. I will have to seek legal advice.

They are absolute scams. Often, you may notice that the people who call you making these threats have English as a second language. Most of them speak with an accent that you KNOW isn't an American accent. And that is because most of them aren't even in the United States when they call you. They use Majic Jack or VOiP to call you from their own country - usually on the opposite side of the world from the United States, and have what seems to be a U.S. phone number for you to call back on and...what they hope...for you to believe that if pay them, right then, you won't have to got to court. If a creditor or collection agency were to truly sue you, you would have to be served court papers by a county sheriff at your home address. And I believe, by law, you have to be given ten days notice before you are required to show up in court to answer the summons about a law suit from a creditor or collection agency. And if that did TRULY happen, and you can't afford to pay what in truth you do owe, what you do is go to the county courthouse and pick up a form called a Slow Pay Motion. You fill that out, listing your income and your debt, and those things, when your day in court does occur, will be why the judge will mostly likely allow you to make small payments on what you are being sued for that got you a summons to court in the first place.

But when somebody tells you that you will have to show up in court tomorrow if you don't pay them today, it's a scam, always a scam. Google "Slow Pay Motion" so that you understand what I am talking about. If indeed you do owe a bunch of money you simply can't pay, the Slow Pay Motion, filed with the court, will keep a creditor or collection agency from garnishing your wages, putting a lien on your property, or freezing your bank accounts. But you have to know about these things if you are going to get past ANY creditor or collection agency, even the valid ones, from trying to fleece you for all they can get.

Don't let it happen! The courts are there for you too, not just for corporations!! Good luck!!

Some debt collectors can be ruthless, calling all hours of the day and night, and threatening arrest and violence if they don’t get paid. Speaking in heavily accented English, they may use foul language and they don’t hesitate to lie about who they are, where they are calling from, or what they will do to you if you don’t pay up right away.

Thank you for all the info. I have had several collection agencies call me about the same issue that had been taken care of. The new agenties calling me are claiming that I paid their money to the wrong people and I was going to jail,that the documents sent to me were no good. Can I sue these people for lying that a warrant will be issued for by arrest if I did not send them xxx amount of money? They all use different phone numbers and call themselves by different names when I call them. Karen

Sure.You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills. Learn more in the FTC's article "Debt Collection".

I have received letters(letters, not court orders) from NCO Financial in regards to a "garnishment" on one of my employees. They claim he owes over $92,000 in student loans for which they expect my company to garnish from his wages. The birth date and SS# do not belong to my employee, only the name is the same. I have called the customer service #888-475-6741 to notify them they are attempting to collect from the wrong person, however they continue to send "orders of garnishment" and threats to sue my company for not remitting payment.
The address shown is:
US Department of Education
National Payment Center
PO Box 105081
Atl, Ga 30348-5081
This collection agency is mis-representing itself as the Dept of Education.

NCO Financial is one of the Absolute Worst!!! You definitely need to report them....

So I had this house phone call stating that they are from the Wilson Associates from check and go payday loan. I believe they are from the collection agency and of course before I even pay them i have to check whether they are an legit company. Then I google their companies name. As I thought.. it wasn't there just an interior designing company. So then Since I was at work and i just heard the news I told my husband to call the company since I cant really talk on the phone. The representative stated that I owed money to a payday loan and then they are already putting a case on me, which again i wasnt even notified at all. THe representative also stated that they will get a sheriff to arrest me the next day. I didnt even receive any documentation. I then researched some more regarding about their company. I then found a similar collection agency on their name. So I assumed that they maybe affiliated.. I called that company and they said that they dont have any records of me AND! they dont know who are those people. The corporate of the company stated that they are not affiliated with that company and with that said, they will file a lawsuit against them because they are using their name or somewhat similar. The representative from the Wilson associate was rude and demanding. Its putting me into a financial strain.

I have a "collection agency" calling me. They say they are from somewhere in ny. I'm in texas. They call my work 10-30 times asking for me and I wasn't there. Now they are calling me telling me if I don't pay $500 in 4 days they will call 300-400 times a day untill I get fired. My boss already understands that this is a scam. I've called the police and spoken to the attorney generals office and they all tell me the same thing. It's a scam and its probably from out of the country and there is nothing I can do but "wait it out". This is all very embarrassing and I don't know if I can be fired or not for so many calls. What can I do? I've already told them to send me the supposed debt that I owe in the mail as proof that I owe it.

Have you looked 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 information.

I got a call today from someone claiming they were authorized to take my fiancé in and wanted to know if he was on the premises. I asked what this was about because no one was at my house. He said he had been contracted regarding something and my fiancé was in big trouble. Gives a case number, a name of a company and tel#. When I asked him to confirm what he said his name was he told me Agent Sullivan. I asked who he worked for and he told me himself that he was a PI hired by this company and that again my fiancé was in trouble, good luck and hung up. Local tel# he called from.

So I called from a land line at my job to the toll free number with my fiancé. They refused to send me anything in the mail and that this was a locating firm that would have contracted to find me. They then advised if we waited on the paper work from the locating firm that they could no longer help me and the paperwork would have further action and fees. When I questioned my fiancé being able to get a break down of the fees to understand and verify the validity. He advised me that it was our choice to believe him or not. Then told me he was not trying to scare me that I could wait on the paperwork from the locating company and that they couldn't help me from there. It was suspect. He mentions to my fiancé the debt in question. Which is apparently a pay day loan from about 7 years ago. We have received no debt collection notices and there is nothing on his credit reports from this company in question. I advised we would talk and possibly call back. I checked the credit reports and found nothing from this pay day lender or this other company that had been contracted to handle this debt. Sounds fishy. But the guy who was apparently contracted to locate my fiancé indicated he was wanting to know if my fiancé was on the premises and he had authority to take him in. Can I file a police report? what do we do.

my sister has recieved numerous phone calls regarding a $4.00 overdraft fee for us bank. I have witnessed phone calls to where my brother in law answered when they realized it was not her they immediatly called him by name and threatened that he was going to jail for fraud for pretending to be her. When he told them that we knew it was a scam they became very angry and turned the attention to him threatening him with cps and his ex wife. They called back numerous times and made threats of jail and sending police to their residence, not for the debt that my sister owed but to arrest her husband for the phone call.
These people have called her mother, brother and her husbands ex wife, but only to threaten the ex wife regarding him, asking very personal question and stating that their son could be at risk also.
They threaten her mother and brother with she will go to jail if the debt is not paid in full and that they will send the U.S. Marshall to her mothers house, this has happened a few times and has my sister and her mother extremely worried.
What can she do to get them off her back. How is it they can contact family and know personall information or how can they contact anyone, i had a similar incident happen to myself and they contacted a couple people I had not talked to in years, luckily it just went away after i called the number cause they said they were going to get me from WA and take me back to CA under arrest for a pay day loan debt. They just went away, but what they are doing to my sister and husband is too much, what can they do.

I just received an email stating that this man was an actual FDCPA official and that I was being sued by a payday loan collection from '09. It said that if I don't contact immediately they will file and send a county sheriff to my place of employment and it would result in termination of my employment. I called the number which is from new Jersey as of the area code. The man I could barely understand stated that I owed $300 now or it would be filed and I would have to pay at least $5000 in court and he would send it to the county sheriff and one of them would be at my work. I said ok I would resolve this issue because $300 sounded a lot less than losing my career. He then told me that he would get with his finance office and they would email me. I got an email about 20 minutes later from a completely different person, also claiming to be a FDCPA official and to send a money gram to Miami Florida for $300 to resolve this completely. Is this real? Can anyone send a sheriff to my work anyway? Can someone claim go be a FDCPA officia?

If you think you might really owe a debt, first contact the company you owe. Ask if they hired this company to make the call.  If they didn't hire the caller, he's probably a fake debt collector.

You have legal rights if you owe a debt. If somebody claims you owe a debt, tell him you want his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell him you won't talk about any debt he sends you a written "validation notice."

If you know you don't owe the debt, and this is someone trying to bully you into sending money, don't give the person any information about you. Don't send money or make any payment.

Somebody who uses high pressure to try to scare you by threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency - is probably a scammer.


Two years ago I got a call from a debt collector telling me I had an unpaid debt through Bank of Delaware. It was for $524, opened in 2002 and closed in 2009. The problem is, I never took out that loan. Come to find out, someone did take out a loan in my name, but had the sense to pay it off. Case closed and the debt collector closed the file, I thought.

Now another debt collector is calling me. The problem is, Bank of Delaware went belly-up for selling bad info to bad people. They transfered all the records to another company, who so far has not cooperated with my requests.

My question is, what is the statue of limitations for a debt collector to take me to court and how many collector's get to do this?

If someone stole your personal information and used it to get a loan, go to and find out what to do. Find out if the person used your information in other ways, and take steps to protect your credit history and information.

If you have old debts, collectors might not be able to sue you to collect on them. State law determines how long a debt collector has to sue you. Read this FTC article about Time barred debt.

To find out how long someone can sue you on different kinds of debts under your state law, check with a legal aid lawyer, another attorney, or your State Attorney General's Office.

Hello, A little background first. I have a small business that relied on timely payments from customers to pay my outstanding invoices. About 6 months ago my client went belly up and left me with $72,000 debt to my creditor. My creditor is in Malaysia. The person who called today first called family members and left voice mail of an indictment pending for criminal fraud against me. I spoke to the person and was basically getting yelled at and how they will put me in prison. He said because this is an international debt a civil suit and his contacts in DC will get me behind bars. I told him I have no means to pay this amount. What can I do? I'm in California if that helps.


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