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(updated December 2023)

Collections Attorneys send scary SMS

(if you just got a scary SMS from a credit provider click here for advice on what to do next)

Debt Counsellors on various message boards and forums are discussing an sms that consumers have received about debts owed to one of the big banks. Such messages are common and all the banks and many credit providers send some variation of such messages to scare you into paying.

Common Features of Such Scary SMS’

The sms may talk about a sheriff being sent to meet with you at your place of work. This is scary because you don’t want people at work knowing about any money issues you may have.

Such messages may also hint at stuff without actually saying it, using clever word play. The message may talk about legal action but probably it does not actually say that legal action at a court level has occurred and that a summons or judgement has been issued. It may rather say that a sheriff will discuss issued notices regarding “your LEGAL“.  It probably does not even say what this ‘legal’ is.

NOTE: It is important for you to know that legal documents need to be served (delivered to you) in the manner agreed in the original contract documents between the consumer and creditor. It is in the contract you signed with the credit provider.

The repeated use of the word “may” indicates that this may not happen.

Whatever the case, it is a scary message that may mislead consumers into thinking legal action has commenced.


debt collectors you cant hideSee an example of one such sms made below:



Message from Attorney Groenewald:

Despite our numerous attempts to contact you, to no avail, the Sheriff may now schedule a meeting with your HR Div and may meet with them during the course of the week to discuss a payment plan & serve the issued notices regarding your LEGAL Nedbank Credit Card Account Ref CCAQxxxxx3 Toll Free 0800002118.


This message (and others like it) on the surface seems very scary. It can make you panic. So, if you get some variation of such a message, the first rule is:

Don’t Panic!

If you read the words of the SMS slowly and very carefully you will see that they may be bluffing to scare you into contacting them or paying them something. So, take a moment.

If you have missed payments and if you are stressed about your debt situation then maybe consider talking to a debt expert (like a Debt Counsellor) for some advice on your situation first, before you get in touch with them, is a good idea. 

This is because getting advice from someone with lots of experience about such messages can help reduce your stress.

Stay Calm. Don’t Panic. 

Check that you do really owe the credit provider something before you get in touch (you want to avoid scammers).

Consider getting advice about the SMS from an expert.

When reaching out be careful of what you say and admit to. Hear what they have to say but do not rush to pay money into an unknown bank account and do not believe everything you read.

You can also get a little more advice on what to do next in the article below.

How to Handle Scary Collections SMS’