Stop a debt collector’s empty threats

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.


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


Thank You Much




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

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.

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.



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.

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.

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.

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.

A legitimate debt collector can't say that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt. Read this article about your Debt collection rights.

A debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice must include the name of the creditor, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

It's against the law for a company to not give you proof of the debt, or to tell other people, including your family members, friends, and employers, about the debts. Debt collectors also can't lie, and say they are lawyers if they aren't. You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. The FTC’ s article Debt Collection has information about your rights.

Hello, I received a call from a company today stating that that were calling due a request to file for a bench warrant for a criminal complaint. I have not had any negative interactions with law enforcement and even contacted the courts and no case is pending against me. They left a 844 number to call back and a case number. They did not specifically reference a debt or an actual complaint, does this sound legit?

If you think you might owe money, get the debt collector's address. If you send a debt collector a written request, it has to give you a written verification of the debt.

If you don't owe a debt, read the article about Fake Debt Collectors provides tips to help you handle calls like the one you describe.

Also, a legitimate debt collector can't say that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt. Read this article about your Debt collection rights.

My mom and my sister received a call for me and they said that they sent me summons and refused to sign. But, my mom and sister never receive that and at the same time I didn't leave to my mom's house neither to my sister since 2006. Somebody called my cell and the number appeared was 0000. I know that I have some debt way back on 2007 because of the unsettled over charge. What do I need to do? Please advise. Thanks

You have rights. A debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

For more information, see Debt Collection and Fake Debt Collectors.

Hello I'm very nervous and scared I received a call from a gentleman in NY threatened me about a case against me I'm thinking it's an old pay day loan told me I needed to call him back or get an attorney then yesterday I received a call from a gentleman in Dallas TX stated he was an attorney and he was going to serve me if I didn't contact the collector at another number. Not sure what to do. Please advise.

If you think you really owe money, contact the company you owe. Ask them what their records say.

Or, get the debt collector's address and send the debt collector a written request. Tell him you want proof of what you owe. If you write to the debt colletor, he has to give you written verification of the debt.

If you really don't owe a debt, the callers could be fake debt collectors. They're trying to scare you and get your money.

The article about Fake Debt Collectors has ideas on how to handle this kind of call. The article about your Debt collection rights is useful too.

You can report a fake debt collector to your state and local consumer protection agencies.

I received 2 calls from 2 different numbers 844 276-6779 and 619 350-6714 from a foriegn sounding person stating I needed to pay $600. and that I have offical been noticed. Then they call my work and asked for my supervisor. I do not owe anyone any money and its embarrassing. Not really sure what to do. I check for court cases against me, and didnt find out which they say it will be an active court case. When I ask to be notified by mail they say they have. I havent received anything, cuz I dont owe anyone. It's frustrating.

I got the same number that called me too! and they said I owe 700 which I know for sure I didn't take any loans out. So I just blocked them.

My ex-wife has been sending debt collectors after me about her medical bills that are in her name that incurred while we were married. Our divorce papers stated that we both have to pay half of the amounts of both our debt as long as the divorce contract was honored by both parties it has not been honored on her side at all. She still claims to be my wife and is still incurring debt in my name. I'm taking care of that part. But the debt collectors calling me and harassing me about her bilks have threatened me with garnishment if I do not give them the money is there anything I can tell them to get then off my back?

You may want to talk to the lawyer who handled your divorce.

Will a litigation office contact you and when you call back they just say you will receive a court summons on tomorrow from the sheriff

If you have a debt and want to know about your rights, read this article about your Debt collection rights.

If a debt collector calls you, get the address and send them a written notice saying you want written proof of the debt. If you ask in writing, a legitimate debt collector has to give you written  verification of the debt.

If you think the caller was a fake debt collector who was trying to scare you and get money, read the article about Fake Debt Collectors.

I had a call from someone saying he was LaRoger Smith,from New York,that I owed money to them for a loan from US cash,he said its 875.00 and I needed to send it by green dot money card today,or I would go to Court, he called phone 50 times non stop and keeps calling my workplace,what should I do feeling scared I'll loose my job plz help!!!

If you really owe a debt, call the company you owe. Ask them about your account.

If you don't owe the debt, the caller is probably a fake. He's trying to scare you into sending money. It's against the law to threaten you to try and make you pay.

Tell the caller you want his name, company, street address and telephone number. Tell him you won't talk about any debt until he sends you a written "validation notice." Don't tell him any personal information like your address or bank or credit card numbers, and don't send him money. If you send a money card, he can take the money and you won't get it back.

Report the caller to the FTC at and to your state Attorney General.

I have been contacted by a collection agency 3rd party and was told i had a case against my ss and that i would have a case filed against in my county for bad check (online payday loan) and they would be sending a person to my address with a summons. I talked with a debt collector lawyer for my state. He looked at their website and looked that they are not licecsned in my state to collect. Can i rela lx and figure lawyer is right ant that this is a scam? The collection agency has address and phone numbers and always answer. I have debt consoldiation team help me and they said that the verification of debt was not right. The debt conslidation agency even told them that. They told me not to pay until i can verify it. Lawyer said dont answer their calls if served then call them.

I had a call today from an unknown number. My husband picked up the call asking for me in a rude tone. At first he said that the lady had an accent then later her accent became like an american accent. She says that she's calling from an attorney office and says that I owe money to this bank that I already paid off. And what even made me even more mad was that she says that I was using a fraud check. I know what I owe and I am not stupid to forget it. She says that they even have a Video recorder that I was using a fake check? hello. Its my own check that I own. Has my name on it, but yes I closed it way back then. And she says that its a felony when I am using my own check? I dont even use those checks anymore. I remember that I used my check for a payday loan but they always check if there was a balance or if it was still open. if there isn't a certain amount they wouldn't approve me for the loan or any type of loan whatsoever. At that time I lost my job and I had a difficulty maintaining my bills. So that was my mistake of going in there in the first place. Of course it denied so I left. I didn't know at the time they closed my account and I already paid off my amount from the bank and remained it closed. How is that a fraud? And now they filed a case against me when they didn't give me a validation of letter or any form of proof that what i did was wrong. Or whatever I owe at least give me a validation of it. I didn't recieve anything! I asked the lady what's her name and who was the collector of the debt and what not, she didn't give nothing. I just hung up. Darn payday loans..

I received a phone call last night from First Financial telling me that they were suing me for line of credit through HSBC for four hundred dollars. I was told if I do not pay within 24hrs that they would sue me. The supposed loan was from 2008. What should I do. PLEASE HELP!

Every 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 must include the name of the creditor you owe the money to, and what to do if you don’t think you owe the money. You can request a validation notice about the debt. This FTC article tells more about Debt Collection.

Or, the caller might be a fake debt collector. Fake debt collectors will:

  • tell you to pay a debt you don't recognize
  • refuse to tell you their mailing address or phone number;
  • asks you for financial or sensitive information
  • try to scare you into paying by threatening to have you arrested or to report you to a law enforcement agency.

You have rights if a debt collector contacts you about an old debt. Debt collectors may not be able to sue you to collect old debts. State law determines how long a debt collector has to sue you. This FTC article tells more about Time barred debt. Ask  a legal aid lawyer or your State Attorney General's Office about the statute of limitations on debt in your state.

I received a call today from number 520-265-3930 a woman said someone had a complaint against me & used my ex last name. That I had to call this # 866-258-7403 today to avoid being taken to court & gave me a file #. I called & talked to a Frank Hutchens, Supervisor at LTS Collections LLC, LTS Groups. said I owe $660.73 to Stream Energy. I know this is an old bill my EX put in my name after we were Divorced,using my Social & name. I told him it was not my bill & explained it to him, he kept putting me on hold supposedly to talk to the Lawyers. He said they had spent to much money on this already & that if I didn't pay it would go to court & I would have to get A lawyer & the Judge would say I should have checked my credit report & disputed the charge so now I would have to pay Thousands plus all there court cost & attorney fees.I had no choice so he took my credit card info, had me sign an electronic agreement( on a side note my name did not sign & it sent a copy went to my email also). I believe now this is fraud & canceled my card. not sure which way is the right way I'm very nervous

If you think you have a debt, contact the company and ask about your account balance. If you have a debt, ask the company if they're using the debt collection firm that called you.  You could ask the company about making arrangements to pay the debt.

Sometimes fake debt collectors call people about debt that isn't theirs. A caller may be a fake debt collector if he:

  • wants you to pay a debt you do not recognize;
  • uses pressure and tries to scare you into paying, by threatening to have you arrested or reporting you to law enforcement
  • refuses to give you a mailing address or phone number
  • asks you for personal financial or sensitive information

This FTC article tells about your rights when you deal with debt collectors.

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