Don't Fall Victim to the ACS Debt Collection Scam
If you've received an email or phone call from ACS Incorporation, a legitimate debt collection agency, about an old debt, it's possible that you're being targeted by scammers who use various tactics to get people to part with their money. Unfortunately, many scammers are very good at what they do, and you could end up losing hundreds or thousands of dollars. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about the ACS debt collection scam, so you can protect yourself.
What is ACS Incorporation?
Established in 1985, Advanced Collection Services, or ACS Incorporation, is a mid-sized debt collection agency that helps creditors and lenders collect payments on delinquent consumer debts such as credit cards, loans, and utility bills. While ACS is a legitimate company, scammers have used ACS’ initials in letters and phone calls to commit fraud. It's essential to verify that any letters or calls come from the real collection agency before taking any action.
How Scammers Target People with the ACS Debt Collection Scam
According to the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), there have been many complaints about a debt collection scam surrounding ACS. Scammers use ACS’ initials in an attempt to convince people that they are authentic. They often have access to private information like the consumer’s bank account number and social security number and use harassment, threats, and emotional manipulation to get people to part with their money.
Many consumers report being harassed or receiving threatening phone calls and emails claiming they owe debts they’ve already paid. Some of these calls and letters come from people claiming to be attorneys or law enforcement personnel. In many cases, the scammer will harass others in the individual’s life, such as their credit references.
How to Recognize an ACS Scam
Dealing with debt collectors can be stressful, especially when you're not sure if the person contacting you is who they say they are or if they're operating a scam. Scammers often use the same type of information you might expect from a real company, such as the consumer’s full name and the actual amount of a debt they may have owed. They may even use a seemingly real name, address, and website to appear convincing.
Look out for persuasive language in their letters and phone calls to get you to make payments on old debt. Since they appear legitimate in (nearly) every way, it can be hard to see through them. If you receive an email or phone call from ACS (or Advanced Collection Services) threatening a lawsuit, do not respond. Instead, demand that they send you a debt validation letter. Do not give them any of your personal information.
How to Recognize a Scam Email from ACS
Start by checking the email address attached to the sender. If it comes from a common domain like Hotmail.com, Gmail.com, or Yahoo.com, then it's probably a scam. A real company will have its own email server. While you're at it, read through the email (if you've already opened it) for any obvious grammatical or spelling errors. One or two mistakes may not be a red flag, but multiple certainly is. Keep an eye out for strange formatting such as all-caps sentences or red writing.
If you've received multiple emails, check if the sender is consistent. If it's not, chances are it's a scam. Any emails that come with suspicious attachments or demand personal information or immediate payment are also probably a scam.
What to Do If You Receive a Threatening Email from ACS
If you receive a threatening email from ACS, don't panic. There are a few ways to verify if you're being scammed: check your credit report and the email itself.
First, check the sender's email address. If it's not from a legitimate email server or has obvious errors, it's likely a scam. Next, read the email carefully for any strange language or phrasing. Scammers often use odd language, lack of punctuation, and poor grammar. They may refer to the recipient as "customer" or "debtor," rather than by name.
You can also check your credit report to see if ACS Incorporation is listed. If the person contacting you is in fact ACS, Incorporation, it will appear on your credit report. While you're at it, check if the sender or caller is licensed or registered to conduct business in your state. If they're legitimate, they will be.
Never respond to any suspicious emails or phone calls. Don't send money or private information to any person, website, or company until you've verified it's legitimate. If you're part of a scam, report it to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) immediately.
Other Names for ACS Scams
Note that scammers use similar (but not exact) names to try to trick people into thinking that they're dealing with one of the legit companies. According to a report from the Washington State DFI, ACS scams operate under different names, including:
ACS Legal Group
ACS Legal & Collection Department
ACS Inc. Payday Loans
ACS Cash Services
American Cash Services
American Cash Services USA
Advance Cash Services
Ace Cash Services
American Credit Solutions, Inc.
If you get a threatening email or phone call from any of these companies, immediately request that they send you a letter that proves that the debt is yours, but don't give them your home address. A legit debt collector should already have that information.
Complaints Against ACS Scams
There have been dozens of official and consumer complaints about the ACS scam. Official complaints on the Washington State DFI's official website involve frequent debt collection scams by people with "ACS" in their names, letters and calls harassing consumers about debts they don't actually owe, inconsistent or strange email addresses and domains, often associated with payday lenders, and people behind the scam claiming to be attorneys or law enforcement officials.
Various consumers have also filed complaints regarding calls to their home and workplace regarding debt they either never owed or already paid off, phone calls to the consumer's credit references, threats of legal action, and access to private information such as bank accounts, SSN, etc.
Conclusion: Protect Yourself from the ACS Debt Collection Scam
In conclusion, it's essential to verify that any letters or calls come from the real collection agency before taking any action. Scammers often use ACS' initials in letters and phone calls to commit fraud, and they use various tactics like harassment, threats, and emotional manipulation to get people to part with their money.
If you receive a threatening email or phone cal from ACS, don't respond. Instead, demand that they send you a debt validation letter, and verify that they are a legitimate debt collector. Check the email address attached to the sender, read through the email for any grammatical or spelling errors, and check your credit report to ensure that the person contacting you is, in fact, ACS Incorporation.
Never respond to any suspicious emails or phone calls, and report any scams to the BBB, FTC, and CFPB immediately. By following these steps, you can protect yourself from the ACS debt