Debt Collection Scams

Debt Collection Scams

Phone calls or emails claiming you owed a debt and could be arrested if you didn't pay?

Did you receive a phone call or an email from someone claiming to be a lawyer or debt collector, stating that you owed a debt, account is past due and you were about to be arrested?

DON'T pay it! First, we are unaware of any legitimate debt collectors contacting people by email (how would they even know an email address associated with a debt?) And legitimate debt collectors must, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, send a letter within 5 days of contacting you, stating what the debt is, why it's owed and how much they believe you owe. The recipient then has 30 days to respond by either contesting it in writing or making payment arrangements.

Examples of debt scams

Phone calls:


Learn more about debt collection rights and laws

  1. See this page for what to do, step by step
  2. What may a debt collector NOT say or do?
  3. You need to know your rights, which are primarily spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Act.  Click on the link to read it!  It is not too look and is not hard to read! 
  4. You can file a compliant against a debt collector with the FTC - Use this form to submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection about a particular company or organization..
  5. You can fight back with a lawsuit - First, see the answer to this question, then see Handel on the Law to find a recommended lawyer near you. You may also be able to file a lawsuit in small claims court yourself.

And see this page for commonly asked questions about your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

More Resources

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to an internet scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with the U.S. government Internet Fraud Complaints Center