You are here

A lesson in phantom debt collection

Share this page

Haunted by debt collectors? Here’s a chilling thought: some debt collectors are calling about debts that aren’t real. The FTC says a company calling itself “Delaware Solutions” and “Clear Credit Solutions,” did just that. According to a complaint filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s office, the company purchased what were supposed to be payday loan debts – only to find out that the debts were fake. But that didn’t stop them from trying to collect on the fake debts. The complaint says the company continued to deceive, harass, threaten and intimidate people into paying what they didn’t owe.

Here’s another hair-raiser: even when they collected on real debts, they used illegal tactics to do so. According to the FTC and the New York State Attorney General’s office, some of their debt collectors pretended to be process servers or attorneys. Others threatened lawsuits, arrest, or imprisonment if the people they called didn’t pay up.

Don’t let debt collectors – real or phony – spook you. Know your legal rights, so you can spot when something isn’t right. If a debt collector calls about a debt – and before you agree to pay anything – ask for a validation notice that says how much money you owe. By law, debt collectors have to send you a validation notice in writing, within five days of contacting you. If they don’t, that’s a red flag. And if a debt collector threatens, harasses or intimidates you into paying a debt, that’s illegal, too. Report it to the FTC, and your state Attorney General’s office.

Tagged with: debt, debt collection
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


New companies but definantly not new tactics. I have been contacted a few times by the phony lawyers and federal agents trying to scare money out of me. The minute I mention statute of limitations and contacting an attorney and hang up..the calls cease until the old accounts are rolled over into new hands and the process begins again. It's insane the extent of play these people go through to collect on old debts. Glad something is being done and the only real protection anyone can have against these predators is knowledge.

what a nightmare!!

I have been receiving repeated calls (seem like robo calls)telling me of urgent litigation with the Treasury Dept. Caller id's himself as "David Grey" with a phone number of 661-250-6995. I have not called back.


This has happened more than once to my husband and I and my parents. My husband and I don't fall for it but my parents are old and they don't understand what is happening. They get upset and freak out.

"CBE Group" calls twice daily including weekends, about a debt from someone with my same last name. How do I stop these Robocalls? Seems like a fraud bilking the elderly to pay unknown debt.

If you’re getting repeated calls from the same number, your phone company may be able to block that number, but first ask whether there’s a fee for this service. 

If you’re getting unwanted calls from a lot of different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Do an online search to look for reviews from experts and other users, and find out whether the service costs money.

If it’s not u just say it’s a wrong number. It’s a real agency, but may have your number by accident.

I told them that and they still called.

They've been repeatedly calling me as well and it's always a number from a different state. I want these calls to END

Is there such thing as Mediation & Arbitration Solutions" at 312.379.5592? I can't seem to find them anywhere on the web. I called back asking where they are located and the gentleman on the phone told me a vague, "we are in all 50 states, you've been transferred to our Texas division." When I asked where the headquarters was, he refused, and proceeded to tell me that I will be receiving my summons shortly and hung up on me. I am not sure if this is real or not. I did not confirm my identity, but he assumed it was me. I am a bit anxious because I don't know what this is. I am tempted to find a lawyer, but if it is fraud I don't want to waste money. I checked my credit report as well and I don't see anything amiss..

This sounds like a scam. If a debt collector calls about a debt – and before you agree to pay anything – ask for a validation notice that says how much money you owe. By law, debt collectors have to send you a validation notice in writing, within five days of contacting you. If they don’t, that’s a red flag. And if a debt collector threatens, harasses or intimidates you into paying a debt, that’s illegal, too. Report it to the FTC, and your state Attorney General’s office. For more information about your rights, please see the FTC article, Debt Collection. And for tips to help you spot a scam, check out Fake Debt Collectors.

I've never heard of this company and have never received a bill from them but I keep getting emails from them wanting me to contact them about me owing money to someone but they don't say who.

I have gotten a lot of phone calls from person's claiming to be a process server collecting on a credit card from 2008 that I never had. Also using Banc one or Washington mutaul as the bank. Both banks were bought out by Chase bank. I reported one company who are still using the phone number they called from. The phone number is 866-235-4736. Another one who uses Lexington law office 510-725-4987. Why report this when they are still in business!!!!

I've gotten phone messages twice this week from a robocall saying to call an 888 number for CBE Group, a debt collector. I don't owe anyone money and haven't gotten anything in the mail saying I owe money. Twice I've just deleted the messages. I am NOT calling back, because this has to be a scam.
The annoying thing is that I'm ON and have been ON the FTC's DO NOT CALL list for a couple of years now. What good is that if these folks are calling me anyway?
And if I were to pass along the phone number to you people at the FTC the next time I get one of these messages, will one of YOU call the number and shake those people down?
The annoying phone message doesn't even give a name for the person they're trying to reach.
Please DO something--unless the current administration doesn't care if all consumers get scammed anyway.

CBE has been calling me for days but won't leave a message. I didn't know who the number was until I called it back today. They were using a last name from when I was married almost 20 years ago and said they needed the last 4 of my social to confirm if they have the right person, then they would tell me why they're calling. I told them I'm not giving them a damn thing. I continue blocking their numbers and they just call from a slightly different extension and manage to get through. I have nothing showing up on my credit report so I'm going to assume they don't have a legitimate debt they are collecting on. They kept talking over me and repeatedly saying, what's the last four of your Social, what's the last four of your social, so I'm going to assume there is something nefarious going on and I'm not giving them anything. It really seems like this should be illegal and with as many comments that says I have found about them online, that they would have been shut down or given a hefty fine or something

Yes the same happens with me & as far as I know they could be trying to steal my identity. I'm on a so not call list as well & beyond posted these leeches continue to get my number

CBE just called me and asked for my son who has not lived here for over 5 years. They told me to have him call back. I asked who he should call back. They would not give me a name or number. I told her I was not going to have my sone call some random number for no reasin. She just kept telling me it was private matter. They call a lot but never leave a message as a real company would. I asked what kind of company this was she said she could not tell me. I told her that if they were a real company she could tell me if they were a car company, warrantee company or collection agency etc. So she must be a scammer and she was not getting any money or information from me or my son. She then hung up on me.

CBE has been calling me for months. I finally called the incoming number back when I hurt my knee running for the phone. They use spoofing tactics to make it look like a local number, and even spoof the first three digits after the area code to match my own, as if that will fool me. This constant harassment has caused me to miss important calls, including job opportunities. I am not able to leave my number with legitimate contacts for a call back because I won’t recognize an incoming number. This fraudulent use of our communication networks, often from offshore, is disrupting the lives of Americans & has serious impact on our health & welfare. I have missed many communications regarding my medical care due to constant fake calls, and escalating stress that is affecting my health. CBE operates out of The Philippines. These companies do not even care if the call is answered; employees just want to record thousands of outgoing calls on their computer during their work shift. As you know, they change the outgoing number with each call so it is not possible to block it. Please Make Them Stop.

It's a scam. The real CBE is supposed to be in Iowa, but they are calling me from a series of numbers with 971-290-xxxx and 971-351-xxxx prefixes (Portland, OR). First caller ID showed it was 'Unknown Name', now it says CBE Group. Duh! IT IS A SCAM!

I have no outstanding debts. They call continuously. They know my name, but there are tons of people with my name, so I know it's not me.

Some people have said that the IRS outsources to them for collections. I don't think that is correct. Does not matter for me anyway. Maybe FTC.GOV can clarify this.


I like to wait the maximum number of rings before voice mail, answer, say nothing, mute the phone, and let them sit there and burn up phone time. They always hang up pretty quick. They will get the message eventually.

Check your credit report. You get one free report from all 3 credit reporting agencies each year. Handle all collections directly with anyone you owe, not a collections agency. Dispute all inaccurate info or bad debts on your credit report directly in writing with each of the 3 credit reporting agencies.

Read everything you can at FTC.GOV. Problem solved.

The Internal Revenue Service chose four contractors to do private collection of certain overdue federal tax debts.

The IRS is using four companies that are listed on this page.  CBE is one of the private companies listed.

The private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit, iTunes or gift card. People will be told that there are electronic payment options on Your Tax Bill. If people want to pay by check, the check should be made out to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency. 

I get calls showing "CBE" on the id, as well as other names that when looked up on the internet appear to be collection agencies. I am 110% sure I owe nothing to anyone. But I am over 70 so look like an easy mark. If they want to say I owe, they can put it in writting and use the US mail. That way it will be mail fraud.
I almost never answer if I don't recognize the caller. As soon as you pass 65 years, the calls like these go on all day.

CBE Group sent my mother a threatening collection letter for a $10,000 Citibank debt.
They obviously didn't do their homework. My mother died eight years ago.

Leave a Comment