Phantom debts and fake collection notices

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Imagine getting an official-looking letter — with a seal, signed by a judge — that says you owe a lot of money for an unpaid payday loan. Awfully intimidating, right? Especially if it included your correct name, address, and maybe even your Social Security number.

In a new twist on an old scam, criminals are impersonating law firms, judges, and court officials. They send out scary letters and make threatening phone calls about phantom debts to try to convince people to send them money.

So, what should you do if you get one of these nastygrams? No matter how convincing a letter or phone call seems, check it out. Look up the real number for the government agency, office, or employee (yes, even judges) and get the real story. It’s likely to be a scam.

Be suspicious if anyone — no matter who they say they are — asks you to wire money, or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay back the debt. There’s no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to send money that way.

Curious about other imposter scams? Check out some of our previous scams alerts. And if you haven’t already, sign up to get new scam alerts by email.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

no comments. but where is money. I need money for invest? where I say about it? do something first.

214-504-2986 This company called themselves Global Litigation and it's a total scam. Do not give them a cent! I called and was told that I owed $1200+ to HouseHold Financial. When I asked him for their number to CONFIRM, he "politely" recommend that I "google" their number. When I informed him that I am a licensed CA Bar attorney and asked for the case/docket number, he claimed to be too busy with other clients and to expect to be served.

Glad you posted this. My daughter received a call from the same phone number, but asking for me. It was an automated message left on her voicemail. Talked about a court appearance, bank fraud or check fraud. I knew it had to be a scam. I Googled the phone number and found your comment here. THANK YOU!

Thank goodness that there a sites like this cause I just got one for my twin brother and started to freak out!

Thank you for putting this on the Blog. I received the same call today and it was an automated message left on my voicemail as well. They also talked about court appearance, bank fraud and check fraud. They said they would contact my employer...I don't have one. Thank you again for posting.

I have received 3 of these calls this week. Oddly, they say they are calling a name that is not mine. It is my ex daughter in Law's name..but my phone #. She never lived here and there is absolutely NO way she should be connected with MY phone number. I am ready to throw my phone out the window.

Today this afternoon I received a voicemail from 321-248-7725 the guy stated that there was a lawsuit filed against me and to please call 844-585-8145 an the case number which included the last 4 of my ss#. I called and a nice girl answers the phone and she knew my full name, last 4 of my SS#. She then stated it was from a pay day loan from 2012 for $300 from 5/3 bank and JHS Group. She says but now because of court fees and interest you owe $1925, I told her I don't owe anything and if so everything was included in the bankruptcy. She said hold on let me check your bankruptcy, she said from 2013?, I said yes, she sad sorry that wasn't included in the bankruptcy. I told her well I believe so. She said that is a loan that didn't involve a credit check and was not reported to your credit report.I said ok and how much to settle and she said I would have to place you on hold and find out if the paralegal will allow this as they do want to take you to court. She then said you can settle today for $710.00. I said email me a copy off the charge I am being sued for, she said unfortunately I can't do that because we did that before and then someone changed it and put paid and when we took them to court we couldn't do anything because it stated it was paid in full. Therefore you will be provided a copy when you fulfill the debt. She asked me for a credit card or debit card and I said I don't have one and she said well I will give you until Monday to get a reloadable card. If you do not call back and fulfill this we will file this at your local county clerks office. So she said you are on a recorded call. I was so shocked and especially that they had perfect English , not the typical Indian accent. I guess they know now we are on them. So I of course started to google the phone numbers and JHS Group and I couldn't find anything. I even googled 5/3 bank and who was their pay day loan company, still nothing. I then googled the 844 area code and came up a few sites where people were talking about the scams they had experienced which were the same or similar to mine. I am so glad I found this site because I was like Monday I am calling my Paralegal and I am calling 5/3 bank and see if they are associated with JHS Group. Then I told my husband about the call I received today and he said oh I received a call from that number today , but didn't answer the phone. The kept calling and they knew my name I was working and told them I was busy and I hung up. He was like that is a major scam no one that sues you or is attempting to sue calls you. You basically get served the papers. It so disgusts me what this world has come to. I hope they get these crooks ASAP.. They should be put to prison, sued, etc... Leave innocent people alone...

They are calling every member of my family. I don't know how they get their number. The same person!! I'm so tired of them. It's also an embarrassment with my family members!

Are you saying that the same person has some how gotten the information to your family members and have called and told them you are facing charges?

I just got a call yesterday that I wasn't able to answer due to being at work and a lady left a message. Then my EX mother in law calls me saying the same person called her but the crazy thing is I was married to her son and my last name changed... they are calling using my maiden name however but calling her instead of my own mother ?? I asked her how they got her number and she said they weren't really able to tell her and I have been to scared to call them because I don't have money for an attorney. Did you actually call and speak to someone?

Same thing is happening to me right now. My mom, my cell, my home, and people I barely talk to on the phone in my family are getting calls...I owe nothing, but they just keep calling, and now they are calling my family members. My number is listed private and my cell is in my oldest son a name. The only thing I'm puzzled about is how the would get my family's number and my sisters in laws number? It's down right creeping me out.

I have received a email stating that they are jerry brown that he a lawyer but I have nevery seen a paper or a call say I own 639 dollars if I don't pay I will have a warrant for my rest and my driver license will be surprised and I will have check fraud against me etc...

You have a right to get information if you have a debt.

Every debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” that tells you how much money you owe. He has to send that within five days after he first contacts you. The notice must include the name of the person you owe, and tell you what to do if you think you don't owe the debt.

There are rules about what a debt collector can do. This FTC article about debt collection tells you about your rights.

If someone says you have a debt, but he won't send you proof, he might be a fake debt collector. This FTC article explains how fake debt collectors try to scare people into sending money. If you think someone is a fake, ask for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell him you won't discuss any debt until he sends you a written "validation notice."  If he won't give you all of this information, do not pay!

But it's fake, so it doesn't matter about the law. They are crooks.

i get the same call but from 844-523-3980 saying I'm going to be arrested and they call my friends and my job. they need to sop and get a real job their selves. this is nerve racking. please make then stop, and they use other numbers also.

they have called me as well as other people with same last name. i don't know how they got their nu,bers. Now saying I will be served and now they know where I work and wages will be garnished. Even spoke to a coworker who answered my extension and yelled at her and said that it was me on the phone. If it was a legal debt I would have recv'd some sort of invoice or bill for what it was. I'm not accepting I owe anything over the phone. Nothing on my credit report pertaining to them. Am being totally harassed.

They are calling me too, it started a few weeks ago, so I blocked their number, then they called my husband, now my brother's work, and now relatives across the country. At this point I wonder why they'd put so much time into calling everyone, it's the same lady. Very infuriating and frustrating and I wish it would just stop.

They called me earlier today as well. I was at work, and did not check my voicemail until I got off of work. Then I get a phone call from my mother who lives 6 states away that I've never lived with within the past 20 years, and left the same message on her home phone. I called them back told me the same deal. Fifth third Bank fraudulent charges that I owed. The guy I spoke to had an American accent. He was SUCH A TOOL. It is now almost 11 hours later, I just read this post. I've already consulted a friend of mine who is an attorney and he pretty much told me it's probably a scam. But I'm meeting with him anyway tomorrow just to make sure I'm OK. This tool shed on wheels totally ruined my whole entire day. Oh yeah and then I get a call from my mother who lives six states away, they left a voicemail on her HOME PHONE. I am so thankful I read this. Thank you so much. I HAVE BEEN SCAMMED!!!

My wife have been receiving emails from Financial crimes of Investigation the email address came from      @gmail.com is saying that she has been informed she is going to be legally prosecuted in the court house within couple of days

your Social Security is Put On Hold by the US federal government so before the case if we would like to notify you about this legal and time-sensitive matter. It seems apparent that you have chosen to ignore all efforts to contact you in order to resolve your debt with financial crimes of Investigations at this point you have made your intentions clear and have left us no choice but to protect our interest in this matter. If we do not hear from you within 48 Hours of the date on this letter we will be compelled to seek legal representation from our company attorney we reserve the right to commence litigation for intent to commit wire fraud under the pretense of refusing to repay a debt committed to the use of the internet in addition we reserve the right to seek recovery for the balance due as well as legal fees and any other court costs incurred we carry all the rights reserved to the farm two FBI f200 and Bank about fraud and once you are found guilty into the court house then you have to have to Bear the entire cost for this lawsuit which totals to $6,271.15 excluding loan amount attorney fees and interest charges you have the right to hire an attorney if you don't have or can't afford one then the court will appoint one for you.

We believe that this was not your intent that these steps are necessary really require you to contact recovery asset location department at +1-646-340-5258 between 9 and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time if you want to resolve this matter than merely contacts through email or calls between working hours phone +1-646-340-5258. United States District Attorney

I'm assuming you didn't call the number and offer up the $6,271.15? I have been getting these emails repeatedly and they are scary/frustrating.

Have you replied or made any contact with the numbers given in the emails? I just received one yesterday and its so scary because I'm really not sure if these people can actually do everything they say. I actually called the number they gave me in their email many times and there was never an answer. It rings forever and then eventually goes into a busy like tone. The company claims to be ACS Inc.

It's a scam don't give them nothing ignore the calls. I get them all the time and my attorney has looked up the numbers and they are scams. You can only report it to the General Attorneys office. And your local police stations. I feel for the elderly people they harp on.

I got a very similar call from a woman. The number she called from was 904-490-7932. She left me three voicemails in a span of a few days. I've been having trouble with my phone; so I didn't get them for a couple of weeks. Same sorts of threats. I checked my credit and everything is fine. What a scam!

The exact same thing is happening to me. A female called my job and told me that she is with Premier Process Server and she cannot open the seal of an envelope to tell me what is going on but they will be serving me for wire fraud. Then she says I need to call another company by the name of Lincoln Mediation. I called there and they got a female on the phone and she said she is an investigator. That I owe 1103.76 for wire fraud from a company I have never heard of. So I research the numbers through whitepages.com and two of the numbers are cell phones and one is an empty lot in Florida that shows to be a scam. I just cannot believe things like this happen. So scary!

I to have receive this same, as well as my brother and my parents. It was an automated call and when you call it back I was given the same information and I would not agree to a settlement so they informed I would be served in 30-45 days.

This company has been calling me off and on for a month or more and said I owe Capital One money and this is my last chance to pay or I will be taken to court. I knew this was a scam! they hung up on me when I told them It was fraud. They are really convincing. this is scary because they had my last four of social security number

im getting the same kind of calls from someone ( heavily accented) telling me that I've defaulted on my Capital One credit card. They had the last 4 digits of my SS number. I've told them time and time again that I have never had a credit card with that company but the calls keep coming.

I received a call today they said I did not file my taxes correctly. And if I would pay $1950, I would not have to do any jail time, but the they said if I can come up with $1000, I would be find. I don't like this. They call from different number

I'm also glad, that you wrote about your daughter. Over the last two weeks, this same phone number call my cell phone twice, my work and my ex-wife once on this bank fraud/ check fraud scam. I contacted Life-Lock, something everyone should have, they have no record of any fraudulent bank/check account. It is so sad, that all the $ this government spends on crap, they wont spend the $ to stop these thieves.

I recieved a call from a 855-624-9674. claiming I had a payday loan from 2011-2012 for over2k. I have not had a payday loan. They said they were sending a written correspondance and that there would be a possible lean on my car if I didn't pay. It is all a scam but it can be very alarming that they have so much information. They called my parents, brother, and grandma trying to find me.

I got a call from 503-912-5539 asking for ### and the name they gave was my actual younger brother. He has never had any connection to my cell phone number, so they must have connected my phone to his name somehow (he's had legal troubles and jail time in the past, so I actually thought the call was legit).
Research shows the same number that called you 855-624-9674 is Greycloud Recovery, probably a front for a scam operation.

THIS IS THE COMPLIANCE DEPT CALLING FOR **********.
THIS IS IN REGARDS TO A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION WE HAVE RECEIVED AGAINST YOUR NAME AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.
WE ARE PREPARING DOCUMENTATION THAT MAY RESULT IN YOUR COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE NOTARIZING AND PROCESSING A SUMMONS TO BE ISSUED TO YOU.
FAILURE TO RESPOND MAY RESULT IN A MISSED COURT APPEARANCE.
PRESS ANY KEY NOW TO SPEAK TO A LIVE COMPLIANCE OFFICER, OR CALL 855-624-9674.

Today I had a call from someone using nearly the same script, here in California. This time from a number in the North Bay Area - A woman identifying herself as Susan Ferrales and calling from this number: 415-801-2203. This is also the number she said to call back to listen to the direct complaint from an unnamed party.

Does the government follow up on these things? At the very least, this phone number should be disconnected.

I've been getting the same calls and it is from a 415 area code saying that I have a claim against my name and Social Security number I also had a call a few weeks back saying that they wanted to serve me at my job to make myself available but nobody came I am just concerned if this is really a scam or is someone feeling me do I need to reply or do I need to call law enforcement

DO NOT REPLY to these people! If you have any concerns at all, contact a known good number for your local law enforcement. These people are frauds and they often sound legitimate, but they are not.

I hate to think that people are being harassed and essentially robbed by people pretending to be "government officials". They are the ones who should be taken to court and jailed!

I'll give them a "grey cloud." May Karma bite them really hard.

They called me this morning.. Definitely Fraud

I got the same call saying they'll be at my house or my place of work today to serve me

I got the same call they say they will be at my house or work from 12-5 that I need to make myself available? Did anyone e show up not yet!

I got the same call they say they will be at my house or work from 12-5 that I need to make myself available? Did anyone e show up not yet!

I need help I received a phone call saying I need a id so they can deliver "papers" to me . What's this mean

We have begun receiving calls from this number (866-390-9267)on two of our landlines. The call is theoretically for our son, who hasn't lived in the United States for four years! They want two forms of ID and will be sending "documentation" by courier to our home or place of business -- and they won't say exactly who they are or what they want. It's clearly a scam; I've seen other reports on this number on a different site, and they're always calling about a relative. I think that ultimately they'll want to ask the family member to bail the relative out of trouble, with $$. My husband and I have decided that the next time these morons call, we're going to tell them to send their stupid "courier" to our local police station, and that we'll meet him there... HAHA.

Someone called me from O'Connor and Associates saying I need to pay $384 to them and if I don't they will have someone arrest me and I have to go to court and. I Google they number and it's not coming up

I got a call from the same number today! They left a voice mail stating that I committed check or bank fraud and if I don't call them back by the end of the day they were going to call my employment to verify. I don't want to call them back cause this is obviously a scam but I don't want them calling my work either. I work for a collection company myself and this is not how we do things. Also I do not have any bad debt. What should I do?

I also received a call today; however, it was an "out of area" and not available number. The message sounded very urgent and yes, said that I had committed some type of check fraud and allegations against me and that I had to either press 9 now or call the number (214-504-2986) by the end of the day or risk legal action or being jailed. I called the number and the person responded by saying it was Global Litigations...I could hardly understand her as she did not enunciate her words at all. I told her I had seen a lot of complaints against them online and that they were a total scam. She said well those are written by people like "you and me." Of course, they are lol...I said but why did I get a call. She then wanted me to give her my name to see if I was in their system. I did not and said that the call was using their number. She indicated that it might have been a private investigator sending out the information. I hung up. I guess if they sue, I'll find out if it's legit or not...lol

We got the same message on Wed 8/27/14 and they were looking for someone with the same last name as us but the first name they had no one in our family has!

I received the same automated message today. I tried to call them back and it keeps saying all circuits are busy. You can't call them back and what flagged my attention is that they didnt leave a case number or anything for me to reference with them if I do call back. I'm so glad for blogs like this who let us know what's really going on. Thank you

214-504-2986. They called themselves Global Acquisitions. Same thing- said we owed $1K in balance and fees from Orchard Bank HSBC from back in 2006. Same last 4 of SSN and even had the formal names of our daughters as 'references'. Threatened to contact my employer for garnishment. Asked for contact info on the debt and she said "you should have that" I said no we don't as we never had any accounts with them and she hung up. Made police report, notified our ID theft firm, and also verified and printed our credit reports.

Got the same call and pumped them for info. Will post company info everywhere possible online once I have it.

Today I got a call from the same phone number with the same scenario, simultaneously on my office phone and cell phone. I called my bank immediately; they checked my account and said there were no allegations against me. I told him the phone number and he said it not any number from my bank. He thought it was a scam. Thank you all for posting this info so I can relax and get back to my Monday.

I received the same call today.. Thanks for posting.

Same thing happened to me last week, yesterday and today. Called my mom, husband, work phone and now my cell phone stating I'd committed bank or check fraud. Told me I owed $1500 on a credit card I didn't open and that we could "settle" for $700 today and avoid going to court. I asked specific information re: the account and she said she didn't have any information to give me & also told me to get an attorney. I called my bank and attorney and they told me several persons have called with the same phone number & that it was a scam.

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