Date Posted: 
Monday, February 26, 2024

Alert number: CA057563_2/24

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) received complaints from Washington consumers against Bureau of Defaulters Agency – FTC Incorporation. It appears that someone claiming to be the Bureau of Defaulters Agency – FTC Incorporation contacted the consumers in an attempt to collect a debt. One consumer confirmed that she was targeted after applying for loans from unlicensed companies online.

In the scam, consumers report receiving intimidating e-mails demanding payment for debts that do not exist and are not owed.  The scammers cross reference fictitious arrest warrant and case file docket numbers, threaten that the “FTC” will file criminal charges resulting in legal proceedings if the consumer fails to respond within the “next 4 HOURS,” and that the consumer’s employer will be notified of the default, and that their wages will be garnished. The scammers also cite numerous alleged technical violations and state that if the consumer pays the amount in full or accepts the proposed settlement terms, a “clearance certificate” will be issued from the court and the consumer will not be contacted in the future. However, they warn the consumer that if they ignore the email, the consumer’s “bank accounts will be seized” and that any late, missed payments or other defaults on their account will be reported to all of the major credit bureaus in the next seven business days and negatively reflect their credit report.

The scammers claim to represent the “Bureau of Defaulters Agency – FTC Incorporation.”  At least one of them claimed to work for Coley Law Associates in Columbia, Maryland. No such law firm existed at the time. Another claimed that they were working on behalf of Cash Advance, Inc. and Cash America International, Inc. The Department has issued another Consumer Alert like this one regarding a possible debt collection scam from people claiming to be a part of the “Cash Advance Group.” The scammers identified so far claim that their names are Mark Smith, Chris Matthews, Mike Johnson, and Steven Brown. 

These apparent scams are associated with the following contact information:



The Bureau of Defaulters Agency – FTC Incorporation is not licensed by the Department and is not registered to conduct business in Washington State by the Department of Licensing, the Department of Revenue, or the Secretary of State.  The Department of Licensing licenses and regulates collection agencies under chapter 19.16 RCW. 

DFI warns Washington consumers:

  • Never send money or provide access to your bank or credit card in response to threatening telephone calls or emails you receive claiming that you owe a debt.
  • Never give any personal information, such as social security number, credit card, or bank account information to any individual, website, or company without first verifying their identity and license status.
  • Check that a financial services company or individual is properly licensed to conduct business in the state of Washington by using the “Verify a License” feature on the DFI’s website at
  • Check the license status of collection agencies with the State of Washington Department of Licensing at

Important Information for Washington State Consumers

Residents of the State of Washington are informed that Washington State law provides in RCW 31.45.105(1)(d) and (3) that a “small loan” (sometimes referred to as a “payday loan”) made by an unlicensed entity to a person physically located in Washington State is uncollectible and unenforceable in Washington State.  A “small loan” is defined in RCW 31.45.073 and is a loan that does not exceed $700.  Collection activities involving loans of $700 or less are subject to RCW 31.45.082, which limits the time, place, and manner in which a payday loan may be collected.  Payday lenders must also provide borrowers with an installment plan if the borrower is not able to pay the small loan back when it is due.

Information About Federal Debt Collection Law

If you received a loan from a lender or owed money to a business and someone other than the lender or business is now attempting to collect from you, the collection activity may be subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  If you receive a communication from a party claiming that a debt is owed, you can request a “written validation notice,” which must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor you owe, and your rights under the FDCPA.  If you have questions regarding federal debt collection laws, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at

Prevent and Report Identity Theft

Consumers should never make payments over the phone or via email to a third party debt collector that refuses to provide a written validation notice.  Even if the party seems to have some of your personal or financial information, you should not make payments or provide bank account or credit card information without receiving a written validation notice.  If the scammers already have your bank account information, social security number, or other nonpublic information, you may be a victim of identity theft.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information for victims of identity theft available online at

If you feel you have been the victim of a financial scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your bank and the three major credit bureaus. Procedures for contacting the credit bureaus are available on the FTC’s website at

Report Suspicious Activity, Scams, or Fraud

If someone threatens to garnish your wages, contact your employer, or uses threatening, intimidating, or offensive language, report such actions to state and federal regulators. 

Washington State residents only: If you are a victim of a collection scam or if you suspect illegal or fraudulent activity involving a financial product or service, please contact the Department of Financial Institutions at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at  You may also wish to contact the state of Washington Office of the Attorney General at

If you live in another state, find the regulator in your home state.

All consumers, if you feel you have been the victim of a scam you might also with to contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or online at; or contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (855) 411-CFPB (2372) or online at

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the internet you may also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center online at