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FTC to abusive debt collectors: You’re outta business!

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Imagine getting a phone message like this:

This is the Civil Investigations Unit. We are contacting you in regards to a complaint being filed against you, pursuant to claim and affidavit number D00D-2932, where you have been named a respondent in a court action and must appear… Please forward this information to your attorney in that the order to show cause contains a restraining order. You or your attorney will have 24 to 48 hours to oppose this matter… Call 757-555-1234.

That’s an example of the type of calls Pinnacle Payment Services, LLC, made in an attempt to pressure people into paying phantom debts — debts they didn’t owe. In its October 2013 complaint, the FTC alleged that Pinnacle used an assortment of fictitious business names that implied an affiliation with a law firm or a law enforcement agency. Pinnacle threatened many consumers by telling them their bank accounts would be closed, their wages garnished, that they’d face felony fraud charges, or would be arrested if they failed to pay the supposed debts.

The FTC said enough is enough, and a judge agreed. Pinnacle and its principals are now permanently banned from the debt collection industry. That means they can’t help anyone else engage in debt collection, or sell, offer for sale, promote or market any information related to debt collection. The court order also imposes a judgment of more than $9 million, which represents the total consumer injury caused by their illegal practices.

If you get a call about a debt that doesn’t ring true, report it to the FTC. Your complaints help us stop rip-off artists, scammers, and fraudsters. The FTC’s aggressive law enforcement efforts put the bad guys out of business, and our vigorous consumer education campaigns empower people just like you to make well-informed buying decisions and recognize frauds and scams.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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I just got a call from Kent , OH from a lady saying I open up a magazine subscription in 2011. She said I agree to there terms and had payed them two times but it doesn't say how I paid them. It state that after that I stop paying and it went up to $1000 and they will send it to legal court and file it Wednesday. She said I pay once on September 8th 2011 the day after I just had my daughter and still in the hospital. She said maybe it was an automatic payment. Which I don't have a debit card or even was working at that time. She also said maybe it was cash or money order. I am in California and I don't do those kind of transaction or even have a debit card. She try to say maybe it was my husband. We just got married last year and he just recently open an debit card 2 years ago. Sound kind of fishy. She told me if I can think of anything to call her back. She said it will be file Wednesday and they will see me in court for not receiving any payments. Right before she call me I got a call from Washington . This sound really ridiculous. She said I subscribe to glamour and other magazine. I'm pretty sure if they got payment from me then I would of known. Also that I wouldn't pay to have magazine sent to me because I don't need them.

If this is a debt collector, you have rights under federal law. We’ve written on this blog about it before and you can also find information about your rights in this article. Debt collectors are prohibited from saying that legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action. In addition, debt collectors may not contact you at work if they’re told (orally or in writing) that you’re not allowed to get calls there.

A legitimate debt 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 has to include the name of the creditor you owe money to, and what you can do if you don’t think you owe the money. Read Debt Collection to learn more about your rights.

Well, I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a lady that calls herself mrs. Clifton, told me I was being summons if I didn't pay an old credit card bill from 9 years ago. She scared me so bad, saying it was a fraud felony and that would be jail, so I gave her some money, not knowing my rights, but I think the bill was paid off in a settlement years ago,

so I'm having to research it down, she did send a bogus agreement paper after two weeks, when I called her and told her I wanted to see some kind of paper, no address, no signature of any kind. So I called her back today, and asked for the address, I'm sure it's bogus, I asked who the ASG lawyer name was and I wanted the bar number, she got mad about that, she said she would refund my money and take me to court.

I know she is lying about refunding the money, I asked her is this ASG own the rights to this old credit card, she told me that the chase card hired them to collect for them. Give me a break!!! She wants 4800 dollars, at 200 a month, when I ended the call, she waited 3 minutes and called from an unknown number, and said she talked to the creditor, and they are willing to take 1200 by the end of the month.

i told her, will let me think about and I will get back with her. It's bad enough that she got 400 out of me and my disabled veteran husband, that served the country for almost 30 years, we didn't know anything like this goes on, but we are learning fast. We both have been stressed over this. None of this can be legal, she calls from 8553118581 and 8553372994, I hope my mistake and being so dumb, telling my story helps others not to answer calls from these numbers.

Thank you for telling your story so people can see how the scammers work. The information you have would be useful in a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I have already sent a report via FTC.gov/complaint. I will paste it here so you have an idea of what I'm currently going through. I hope this helps others realize that there are actions to be taken and you don't just spimply give in to these scammers.

On Thursday, June 9th 2011 at 4:43pm I received an email from intfinservices   by a Mr. Corey Webber; Recovery Specialist/ Internet Finance Services (713-482-8912) The email began in bright red color my First and Last name, SSN, DL, DOB and Home Address. "Thank You for your recent business. Our records indicates, however, that the below reference account is currently overdue." Payday Today" Loan type: Payday Loan. Loan Date: 9-27-2009. Account: 1J1022. Original Amount: $477. Amount Due: $1J1022. Deposited to: Suntrust. Bank Account: 10000******** (Side note; this account is closed and inactive since May 31, 2010)

It than reads in bold, "Please be advised this a 2nd notification that we will debit your account on 05/20/11." It goes on to state that they attempted to contact me several times via email and phone to resolve the matter. That they would debit the said account in the amount of $777 because lack of response was treated as consent to do so.

I attempted to reach this "Corey Webber" with no luck and I have since decided it was scam mail with possible identify theft, as I have never incurred a loan outside of my own personal bank. However today, 5/18/2016 I received a phone call at 8:14am from "United Credit Bureau Services" to confirm my current phone number and address. Which they read aloud and I did not provide, and that a issued subpoena would be filed for litigation for bank fraud. Their services were attained by "Payday loan Canyon Creek Management" and could not divulge further details about the client. I have since called both my old bank Suntrust and current bank USAA about possible fraudulent activity but I am unsure how to handle all of this entirely. I hope to hear back from FTC in additional ways to handle this. Thanks

The caller might have been a fake debt collector. A fake debt collector may have some of your personal information. A caller may be a fake if he

  • wants you to pay a debt you don't recognize
  • refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number
  • asks you for personal financial or sensitive information
  • pressures you to scare you into paying, threatens to have you arrested, or says he'll report you to law enforcement

If you think a caller might be a fake, ask him for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell him you refuse to discuss any debt until he sends you a written "validation notice." The notice must say the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Had some one call claiming to be with PCH legal, and calling to collect a debt that the collector deemed me able to pay and choosing not too. They said the loan was taken out in april 2010, and deposited on a net spend card. Neither of which happened.! And the address they claimed i used on loan was not the one I lived at, at this time. They threatened a law suit and charges of bank fraud being brought against me if I didnt get this paid. two weeks go by, and they didnt get their money like they were expecting, so they called back and told me that the documents pressing charges were being sent to their legal team and they would file with the county I lived in. And a warrant would be issued for my arrest. All numbers they used were 855-256-7438, 855-207-9705 and 844-515-1207 and Tracy was the name of person that called me....And two other names they used THE processing Firm and CP Investors

Thank you for telling your story so people can see how the scammers work. The information you have would be useful in a complaint. Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

My wife and daughter got calls from these scam artists. They threatened a civil suit, but offered to let me pay the debt over the phone. I told them to send me documentation to review. If I get anything from them, copies will be going to the FTC. This is BS. Scammers need to get a real job. Thanks to all for the posts. They were very helpful.

Got a call from someone saying they represented Citibank, said I had to pay my debt or they would be sending papers to the county sheriff at 11am the next day, and would be taking my car! They made me give them them my bank info and agree to pay them One hundred eighty six dollars and change every month until April of 2018. I was so scared, I can't lose my car it is all I have. They said I could make a counter offer to pay off debt only if I knew I would have the money by June 30, so I had no choice but to agree to the payments. I'm afraid now this may have been a scam and they have my bank info. I am disabled, have no income; except my husband's and can't pay this. I don't know what to do. They never gave me the name of their company, just the lady I would be talking to. She told me she needed to put me on hold so she could talk to the attorney on staff. She gave me until June 30th to have the money in my bank.

Ok, so number 8774491665 is one of these. leaving threatening phone calls. calling everybody asking for an address. they have no right calling family and friends harrasing them to give an address for me. each time their phone number shows as ID 'unavailable'. We all know that those are scams. Then they said that on the recording that I have been extremely uncooperative and I am going to have to deal with the company and so, 'good luck to me'. Tell me that isn't threatening. When I call the number from unrelated phone, someone answers as 'Dean J Anderson Group'. Are they trying to give people heart attacks? if so, it's working.

I received a call from Dean J Anderson Group stated I owe a bank account that I closed almost 6 years ago. They advice me if I don't paid it, they will garnish my wages, they will bring me to court. They called me and verify who I am using my date of birth and last 4 digits of my SSN. What should I do? can someone help me?

If you know you don't have the debt, the caller could be a fake debt collector. Sometimes a fake collector may even have some of your personal information, like a bank account number. A caller may be a fake debt collector if he:

  • wants payment on a debt you do not recognize;
  • refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number;
  • asks you for personal financial or sensitive information; or
  • tries to pressure you into paying, threatens to have you arrested, or reported to law enforcement

Read more about fake debt collectors and what to do if a fake debt collector calls. 

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