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

Comments

I have filed complaints with you regarding abusive actions regarding pay day loans. It is great you are acting on this and hopefully, the company I reported will have the same action.

Does the FTC go after lawyers who target widows and children
into fraud trusts?

You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint. If a trend is detected there could be an investigation.

i keep geting calls saying that the irs is sueing me and that therea warrants for my arrest

Its absolutely amazing how citizens are protected by the FTC and the work they're doing in this regard!Keep it up!

Good to know! I was one of those victims that was contacted by that company and I am glad the FTC put them out of business!!!!

great enjoy reading all comments.

It gives me hope to know that you are working to help us get more access to our credit. It is very hard to constantly have to pay for your credit report when you have a fixed income. People with money can pay and should not have these problems but, people like me, on a fixed income, how can I afford to pay for these reports? They should be free so I can see and make the necessary corrections.

You can get a copy of your credit report — for free — every few months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228. Federal law entitles you to a free copy every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You also might want to review our article about how to dispute errors on your credit report.

I can say with all honesty, I have not received any monies of any kind. as I am of limited income, i'm not gonna bite these things in the butt.. I've got more sense than tha.t.. my mama did not raise a fool, so if anybody tells that again, its a lie.

I'm so glad I get this information,I will make a complaint if someone DOSE call me,

Good to hear FTC actively goes after these dirt bag.

Anderson law group does the same approach

I have recently had the issue with scamers claiming to be from Anderson and associates is this what your talking about?

I just received a call yesterday from a California number claiming they were sending a process server out. Even the caller ID show it came from Court Processing. The guy asked me when I would be home yesterday so they could send someone out. I waited for the guy but nobody showed. My accounts are paid perfectly so I couldn't wait to see someone show up at my door.

I received numerous calls today from a CA number about outstanding warrants claiming they were from the US Treasury, Department of Legal Affairs and would be serving me with papers for arrest. I have reported it to the NCDOJ and the FTC; also added my number to the National Do Not Call Registry. When I called back and told them I knew it was a scam, they quickly hung up.

I sure like this if it includes the collection agency that has been harassing me. I am a basket case worrying about this. I have never been this broke or scared in my life.

I am not sure if I have been scammed. Debt Solution Services (844) 745-7023. They initially never provided documentation to me, but they did have my name, phone number, and past debt that I still owe to Canyon Creek LLC. I paid them in June. I recently received another call from another company Tier One Asset Management stating that I owed Canyon Creek LLC. I had only the one loan. They told me other place was a scam. I contacted DSS, and they seemed unprofessional, and there is a lot of negative feedback for them.

I also received a phone call from DSS at this 844 number today. They called 4 of my family members using scare tactics. I don't have any debt owed to the people they claimed and I checked my credit report after I got off the phone with them. I see they have a website and will do more investigation on them.

I keep getting calls for my ex-husband of 25 years and have repeatedly told them to stop calling, I have no information or contact with him. This time a William Bailey called and I again demanded they remove our phone number for like the third time.

hang this people causing people to get sick just thinking about it.

The 2007 financial disaster did us in. Maxed out credit cards which we eventually could not pay. My question I was informed excessive phone calls are considered harassment. One very popular chain called constantly even on Sunday. Sometimes as early as 7:30 AM as late as 10PM. One day it was 9 times. Took me to court, judge released claim. The next year I received notice of new court date. .Called them with case #. Tried to tell them the case was released and I didn't think it could be tried again. I was told exactly they can do what they want. I went to court. My # was called I walked out the within a couple minutes. I would call that excessive. Lost wages from work my time and gas. I probably could have counter sued but what I was told the amount of payouts wouldn't have covered an attorney. That is why they get away with it. Even worse trying to work through foreclosure. Thank you for helping us.

Dear Abused Consumer: An attorney would possibly take your case pro bono and win Money for you and
him in this case,besides there is a statute that limits collecting a debt after so many years. Most states after four years. Ask an attorney.

i have received phone calls saying i have partaken in fraudulent activity concerning a pay day loan. they went on to tell me if i didn't pay them 900.00 dollars i would be taken to court and punished by law.. they told me they were an attorney's office. i asked how i owed 900.00 and their answer was interest and other fees. they said i needed to pay 500.00 to make this go away because i told them i didn't have 900. dollars, when i replied i was on a fixed income living off of 733 dollars a month, they replied ill call the loan establishment and see if they can lower it. i counted as she put me on hold. i got to 3 seconds and she replied they will do 2 payments of 250. or 100. a month until its paid off. My last name is H , they had me as Janet P L , a marriage from 1992 that lasted 3 years. they keep calling and threatening me, they have tried to send certified letters. its non stop, i have experienced terrible anxiety and don't sleep for days i called the BBB and they said it was a collection agency, another lie, because they told me they were not a collection agency because i asked them. they insisted they were a lawyers office. I am literally a nervous wreck over their constant aggravation. I wish to seek an attorney for mental anguish and for non stop panic attacks making me feel as if i'm having a hear attack. Please help me. i am at wits end, i do not know what to do. I feel like this is worse than becoming a bilateral amputee a year ago. yes, its much more stressful.

I'm a senior citizen and was getting a lot of debt collectors calling me for awhile. I just changed my phone number, and it was on the do not call list. the funny thing is the collectors were looking for people with other names, not even my name, and I have no debts as I have no credit cards except just one I use. it seems like a random type of scam to me, like people fishing for a fool. basically very annoying. good for the FTC. glad to hear you guys are on top of it.

why didn't they go to jail?

So,what's the number to call regarding fraudulent collectors and scammers?

You can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at www.ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

i keep getting calls saying they are filing charges against by ss number and name and once they do so at my work or home i will lose my rights. they call from all #'s and have acctualy claimed to be the FBI. the next day i called the number and asked what or whom i was calling and they said cash net usa. they call family friends ect . I want to no how they have ther #'s do they have access to my phone calls

Good work!!

I want my money from kings guard security co., from a job in Lagos, Nigeria !!

I AM SO GLAD THE FCC IS BEING PROACTIVE IN HIS!!!!!!! BRAVO TO YOU!

I received a call like that from the company named they also called my wife my 2daughters one in MPLA and one in nova rayon fl threatening them physically and emotionally. By the way I filed a complaint with you guys a year ago with the same co bilking me out of 1600. On a loan fraud

Bravo FTC. I for one really appreciate this action. I've gotten a few of these calls regarding phantom debt and was pretty stressed over them until I learned what they were. Thank you very much.

Isn't this fraud!? Why aren't they in jail?

Yes, why didn't they go to jail -- it seems that they at least committed wire fraud and it does seem to be a criminal case? Yet, there is no mention of criminal prosecution.
Frankly, this is why it is so profitable to commit these types of crimes -- they will not be prosecuted

This is great news. The problem is there are so many others out there like Pinnacle and it's so hard to stop just one. Keep fighting, FTC!

Bravo! It's ridiculous the tricks these guys use. The thing is they are "trained" to do this. I'm so glad that's one company that was put down. Maybe the other "debt collectors" out there will rethink their methods. I could NEVER work for a company that did this.

Pinnacle is not the only company that uses practices such as this. I sure hope that all the scammers out there are shut down soon!

I, too, have gotten many of these debt collectors calls. Unfortunately I paid so many of them as I thought they were real & thought I was helping my son. Got way deep in debt & just had to refinance to get rid of my credit card debt due to these SCAMMERS. I no longer answer their calls & pay no attention to their threats.

This looks like the FTC has written these responses. I am still receiving this call and was finally going to report it here. But, now I see the FTC is claiming to have nabbed these guys and put a stop to the fraud over a year ago - Typical gov't. agency, shutting down group under one name, while they just pop-up again under new names! THIS IS NOT SUCCESS!!!

I just received a call from Standard Mediations saying they represented First Banks and were trying to collect on a $7500. debt I bank there so I know this call was 100% bogus. When I cited this article the guy got pretty angry

What is the best way to find out if the company that is calling to collect a debt, is actually the owner of the debt? I have one that I would assume is in collection. I have no way of finding out when the last payment wast made, but I'm pretty sure it was 4 years ago. Once they get me on the phone they are very aggressive about starting payments ASAP for the entire balance(or they'll have to "move forward"?) There are at least $800 in late charges & other fees on a little account with a $2,500 limit. The first late fee was due to their own computer problems & I wasn't able to make it back to the store to pay in time. (I didn't have checks or a computer at the time.)The late charge caused the account to go over my limit, so an over limit fee was added. The fees were nearly $40 each. Suddenly an account on which I normally paid $25 per month, every month, had a minimum payment due of the entire over-limit amount including the interest charges plus the normal minimum payment. It was more than I could possibly pay. I tried calling but they were having a lot of problems at the time & I don't remember being able to reach anyone about it. I did the stupid thing and ignored it. So the account that I had such a good record of always paying on time with a little (tiny) bit extra each month snowballed into a debt I couldn't handle -- due to what I would call fee gouging, but I don't know if that's correct. I figure this must be the year after which they can't contact me about it which is why they're willing to offer a payment plan of $50/month for eternity... to pay the balance with fees, late charges & interest. They say that if I could come up with enough money to pay the entire balance in 3 payments they would be happy to settle for a whole lot less... So, because I can't afford that I have to pay more. It probably sounds like a minute amount, but I live on disability income, so it's huge to me. I know it's too small to file bankruptcy, but I'd like to know my rights. I know that when they purchase these debts they generally pay less than half of the total debt. They don't want to wait another second for me to get my info together so we can start automatic payments to go through electronically each month. I've been told that once you set up an electronic payment it's impossible to stop the payments, and that some less scrupulous companies will change the amount. I get the idea that they don't want me to have time to talk to an attorney to find out about my rights or to do too much investigation. The original debt was to Citibank on a MasterCard. I'm afraid that if I make a payment now, that I'll be losing some option or another. I believe it would at least start the 4 years or whatever, over. Anyway, any info at all would be appreciated. They are supposed to call tomorrow at 5 pm. - When I say "they" I meant the rep and his supervisor, who is the person he had me talk to about doing something about that fee amount. He was quite rude. Sorry this is so long. :\

I keep getting calls from 210-520-6400, telling me he represents Chase bank- we don't have anything with Chase. Google his name, see other spam complaints, and it is Mark Almendarez, San Antonio, TX. You need to "Chase" him- he has been calling every night.I have registered complaints with you at least 4-5 times.Thank you-please help.

I keep getting calls from the number too. I just called them back and told their service representative to give Mark a message that he is a fraud and I advised her to get a new job. I have no Chase account! what is with this?!!!

Why aren't they thrown in jail for fraud? All they get is lose the $$ they stole, what do they have to lose? It's like those fundraisers, "cancer children of america" that raise 100 mil, pay $1000 to actual children with cancer and pocket the rest. They get slapped with a 10 mil judgment, and get to keep 90 mil.

i filed a complaint about Morris Jackson & Hunter a debt settlement company.I keep hoping I'll get my $5700.00 back. This was from the year 2012.

I,think FTC,do the greatest job helping people like me how to deal with thieves to get money from innocent peoples they neverheard of it.I,love FTC web site so,helpful and a guidance how to deal with such problums.

CALLED NCS FOR THEIR ADDRESS AND THE GUY GOT UPSET WITH ME AND HUNG UP IN MY FACE. CALLED THE MEYERS GROUP FIR THEIR ADDRESS AND THE GUY TOLD ME THAT THEYRE NOT ALLOWED TO GIVE THAT INFORMATION OUT OVER THE PHONE. SO IN OTHER WORDS, YOU WANT ME TO PAY YOU BUT YOU CAN'T GIVE ME THE ADDRESS TO YOUR OFFICE. WHY ALL OF THE ATTITUDE WHEN I SIMPLY ASKED YOU FOR ADDRESS? NCS CALLED HUMAN RESOURCE ON MY JOB BUT REFUSED TO GIVE ME THEIR ADDRESS WHEN I CALLED BACK AND HUNG UP IN MY FACE....GO FIGURE!

Another debt collector you do NOT need to give monies to is Portfolio Recovery. They will call and call and call from various numbers from various locations. I actually spoke to them once and I was harassed and yelled at. They have been harassing me for almost 8 years over debt I do not owe. There are formal letters you can find online (I found one on my state's website) that state you deny the debt they say you owe, and that you demand proof the debt is valid, and to stop contacting you. I sent one and a month later I got a letter saying my account was closed. They are bottom feeder debt collectors that try to intimidate you to pay debts that are not valid.

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