Managing Debt

Getting Collection Calls for Someone Else? Here’s What to Do

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My daughter is only 12, but she already knows a lot about dealing with debt collectors. Several times a week she gets debt collection calls for the person who previously had her cell phone number.

Some of the callers are polite and tell her they will remove her number from their records. In other cases, the call is a recorded message and it’s impossible to speak to someone unless she chooses the recorded option, “Press 1 if you are (the debtor).”

One particularly frustrating series of calls came from a collector who was trying to collect a small debt—just under $12—for Blockbuster. The recorded message left no option other than to pay the debt by phone. After several attempts to stop the calls, I finally contacted Blockbuster’s public relations department. Someone there put me in touch with the collection agency, who then assured me they would change their answering system to include an option to tell the collector they have the wrong person.

I know my daughter isn’t alone on this. When my sister moved a couple of years ago, and got a new phone number, she received so many calls from collectors for the phone number’s previous owner that she finally ended up canceling that number and getting a new one.

So what can you do if, like my daughter or sister, you are getting debt collection calls for someone else? I spoke with two attorneys to find out. Cindy Salvo is a partner in The Salvo Law Firm and her clients are debt collectors. I also spoke with Brandon Block, a consumer attorney in private practice in California. He represents consumers in debt collection cases.

What rights do consumers have if they are getting calls from a debt collector for someone else?

Salvo says, “My clients are really trying to just collect debts from people who owe them. There’s no benefit to them to keep calling the wrong person. If you tell them, they will stop.” She recommends trying to get someone on the phone and asking them to remove your number from their records.

But what if that doesn’t work? Block explains that many of the rights provided by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are afforded to “any person,” and not just the person who owes the debt. If the collector is calling about a debt that belongs to someone else, the person receiving the calls can sue for actual damages, statutory damages and his or her attorney’s fees.

He also points out that state laws may provide additional rights. In California, for example, the recipient of the calls may be able to sue the debt collector and original creditor under California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Salvo has another suggestion: ask the debt collector for the company’s fax number or email address. “If the calls don’t stop right away, the person being called can email or fax the collector the first page of their phone bill—showing the phone number the collector just called, and the name of the person on the bill (not the debtor).  That could be very convincing.”

What if there is no information available about how to contact the collection agency placing the calls (for example, when a debt collector refuses to provide that information, or if the recorded message does not include it)?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires a debt collector who contacts someone other than the consumer to identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer. But recorded messages from debt collectors can be tricky, as there is still some debate about how much information collectors can or should leave on answering machines.

“This is a real problem,” says Block, who has run into this situation with some of his clients. He says the best thing to do is to try to get the number from which the collector is calling, generally through caller ID. It may then be possible to trace the number, either online or through use of a private investigator. If that isn’t possible, your phone company may be able to help. If all efforts fail, Block suggests providing a copy of the message to the Attorney General’s office and the FTC. “If there are any threats of arrest or government intervention, the messages can be provided to your local police department, US Attorney and/or FBI office as well, though I have seen a decreasing interest in these issues by law enforcement.”

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you the right to tell a debt collector not to contact you again. Does this right also apply if they are contacting you about someone else’s debt?

Block explained that the cease communication provisions of the FDCPA apply to a “consumer,” which is defined as any person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay a debt. So if the call states that someone other than the recipient of the call is obligated to pay a debt, the recipient of the call is not a consumer and does not get the benefits of the cease contact provisions.

But that doesn’t mean all is lost. Block points to another section of the FDCPA that addresses situations where collectors call any person other than the consumer for purposes of acquiring location information about the consumer. There, the FDCPA provides that the collector cannot communicate with that person more than once unless the collector has reason to believe that the person is lying or the person requests the collector to call again. So a person who is receiving calls about someone else’s debt can speak with the collector once and say whether or not he or she knows the whereabouts of the debtor. That should put an end to the calls. If not, the recipient of those calls can sue the debt collector.

Salvo shares the other side of the story. She said some consumers will go to great lengths to avoid collectors. “One of our clients had a debtor who told him that he (himself—the debtor) had died.” She also cautioned that some consumers are suing even if they haven’t been harassed. “In court cases, our clients can produce recordings of the calls they place, and sometimes it’s clear they weren’t harassing the debtor.”

My view? We need a Do Not Call List for debt collection agencies, similar to the one in place for telemarketers. Consumers who are on the receiving end of calls for someone else would be able to register their number to stop these types of calls.

There are practical issues involved, of course. Debtors could register their phone numbers just to make phone calls stop. But already, under FDCPA, a consumer can write to the collector, tell it not to contact them again, and the calls must stop.

Summary

If you are getting collection calls for someone else:

  1. Take notes. Write down the phone number they are calling from and try to speak to someone to get the name of the collection agency. Remember, under the FDCPA, if you are receiving calls for someone else, they are required to provide the name of their employer upon request.
  2. Tell the collector they have the wrong person, and ask them not to contact you again.
  3. If the collector calls again, tell them you are going to report them to the FTC and your state attorney general—and do so. You may want to offer to fax them a copy of your phone bill with your request that your number be removed from the debtor’s records, but you are not required to do that.
  4. If the calls continue, contact a consumer law attorney.

If you’re concerned about how your debt could be impacting your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. If you’d like to monitor your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card provides you with an easy to understand breakdown of the information in your credit report using letter grades, along with two free credit scores that are updated monthly.

Image: iStock

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  • Steve

    When they call you with prerecorded messages, you can sue them for $500.00 per call, provided that they have called more than once in a year under the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (TCPA) 1992. Research the law, you will be amazed at what you find

    • Peter

      hi,
      thanks for this useful information… I guess the same stories happen both in US & Canada, where I live. Do you know if this is a strictly US law, or does it possibly apply in Canada too ?
      thanks for the follow-up !

  • Jeremy collins

    I have been phone calls for the same woman for 2 years from a multitude of different companies. I’ve had this phone number for 10 years. Just recently started receiving mail at my house regarding this womans debt. I filed a BBB complaint against one of the companies, but they resolved it with the BBB stating due to privacy information they could not provide me the company that turned the debt over to them. (I attempted to get the main company name where I can tell them to take my number off the list). But every 4-6 months they hire a new debt collection agency and the phone calls start all over again. Think they’ve had about 6-12 collection agencies in past 24-36 months that have been calling our house. I don’t know what to do, because each time a new company is calling for the same debt. Any thoughts?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Somewhere along the lines there has either been a mix-up or she is using your phone number to apply for credit. (Make sure you check your credit reports to see if her information shows up as an alias.) I suggest you keep records, contact a consumer law attorney if needed – and be sure to file a complaint at the FTC.gov and with the CFPB at ConsumerFinance.gov.

  • Steve B

    I’ve had the same exact thing happening as Jeremy stated. There is someone with the exact same name as me, and he failed to pay his student loan, so every 6~10 months I’ll get random calls from a new debt collector, one actually sent a court order to my employer to start automatic withdrawals to recover the debt…that was quickly squashed when I advised my HR department to review the Social Security Number. Ultimately I found out that they are just calling every person with the same name and accusing them of the debt. Most have been nice enough to verify SSN’s or something when they call, but not all. I’m glad I read this article because I just moved to California last year, and I’m going to look into the California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Already this week I’ve had 2 calls, and one hang up from the next agency on the list. Thanks for the great information!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Steve – So glad it helped! It’s nice to hear some good news on this front for a change. :-)

  • Sarah

    what if they are calling you regarding a family member? do the same rules still apply? I’ve forwarded the information on to the family member (and I don’t know how the collection agency got my phone number), but if the family member doesn’t call them and they continue to call me, can I do anything? do I have to give them the phone number of the family member?

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri Detweiler

      No Sarah you don’t have to provide the family member’s contact information. You can tell the collection agency that the family member doesn’t live with you, that you can’t help them, and tell them to stop calling or you’ll contact a consumer law attorney. Consider filing a complaint with the FTC (FTC.gov) as well.

      But your relative really does need to figure out a way to deal with this debt. Otherwise, the collection agency may sue her, and if she ignores the lawsuit, they may get a judgment against her which could potentially allow them to go after her bank account, wages, etc. Encourage her to come here to learn more about what she can do when a debt collector calls:

      http://blog.credit.com/2010/11/infographic-what-to-do-if-a-debt-collector-calls/

      • carla

        I have a debt collector who is calling for my daughter who has not lived with me for over 3 years. He started calling about 2 weeks ago. He is using a spoofing disconnected number that show up on my caller ID. When I called back the number shown on caller ID, the recording says that the number is disconnected. When I answered the phone and spoke with a man named Charles. I told him that my daughter no longer lives here but occasional calls for messages and that we are basically estranged. He will not give him his company name and when I ask for a call back number he keeps giving my different numbers. I have asked him to stop calling but he continues to call 3 or 4 times everyday. What can I do to stop these calls. I do not have a contact number or address for my daughter. Help I am in California

  • j

    I keep getting calls asking if I am so and so – since I’m not and my number is listed – why do they keep leaving messages on my phone?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Who knows? Somewhere somehow your number has gotten into their files as belonging to someone who owes a debt.

  • Charlie

    In the past few months I started getting a bunch of calls from creditors. I normally let my answering machine answer my phone plus I have caller ID. One of these creditors would call 4-8 times per day but not say a word on my message. Others would also hang up most of the time when they got my machine. I finally started answering these calls and discovered they were calling for someone who had the same last name as me. One of these creditors let it slip they search and call people with that last name in the area where the person they wanted to contact was at, according to their records. Is this legal? Last time I looked in the phone book, there were 8 other listings in my area with the same last name. Considering more and more people don’t list themselves in the phone book these days, who knows how many more of us have been targeted for these calls.

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Creditors are not covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Only third party debt collectors are.

    • SMITTY

      That is the same thing that is happening to me! My last name is smith and my phone is listed under my first name initial. I get at least 2 calls a day looking for someone with the last name Smith and the first name having the same initial as mine!! These calls start at 8:00 am promptly and may go up to as late as 8:59 p.m. I let my machine get it and they hang up. Certainly there has to be a law against collection agencies calling random numbers for people with same last name? that is harassment.

  • Jan

    We live in Texas. Approximately every 6-8 months we receive phone calls from debt collectors asking if we know the whereabouts of a former neighbor couple. We didn’t even know their last name until one of the callers told me their name (they moved out in the middle of the night just after Hurricane Ike over 3 years ago). Initially the creditor told me he was a family friend, but he had lost their phone number & asked me if I could either give him their number or go across the street & ask one of them to come to the phone. I understand that these people may owe money, but we keep telling these callers that we don’t know anything about the couple. This one creditor will not tell me who he works for & the Caller ID doesn’t list a name or number. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Debt collectors are covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Creditors are not. That said, debt collectors may contact third parties to try to locate the debtor. Once they have located the debtor, calls to third parties must cease. In addition, collectors are not allowed to use deceptive means to collect debts. Telling you they are a family friend, when they are not, could fall into that category.

      Tell the debt collector you cannot help them, and that you will be recording their calls in the future and reporting them to the Federal Trade Commission if they call again. They will hopefully stop if they know you won’t cooperate.

  • Marti

    I have recently been receiving voicemail messages on my home phone from people trying to collect someone else’s debt where part of the message goes something like this: “If you are not X, please do not listen to this message and call ____ to confirm you are not X. If you are X, under law, we need to inform you that this call is regarding collection of a debt. Please call _____ at ____, etc.” Somehow, the “If you are not X, please do not listen to this message…” concept doesn’t seem in keeping with my, admittedly minimal, understanding of the FDCPA. Your thoughts?

    • SMITTY

      I get those two. I feel that is an invasion to my phone line! How dare they leave a msg and then tell you not to listen to it if you are NOT that person. That proves they are phishing through listed phone numbers to locate someone they have only partial information on – my last name is SMITH so this happens all of the time!

  • Lauri

    I’ve changed phone numbers three times due to collection calls for someone other than myself. The third time I got caller id also. The phone was quiet for a few weeks. Then the calls started again. The collection agencies then started leaving their names with the phone messages. I called them all back for a week or two. It seemed the more agencies I called back the more calls I got. Then the calls started coming for more than one person. I get them every day, sometimes two or three times a day. I have turned my ringer off. I don’t answer calls anymore. I have to clear out two or three messages a day. It seems a real shame that I should have to pay so much money a month for a utility that I am barely able to use because there are no better laws protecting people like me. Here’s another trick the collections use, they can change the number on the caller ID to a fake number. They have also used false business names that don’t exist. Some of them have even gotten brave enough to call during prohibited times. Trust me when I tell you, they will stop at NOTHING and they always find a way to skirt around the law. There is NOTHING a person can do to stop this because the law isn’t strong enough. I got mad and yelled at one guy and he said “sorry lady, I’m just sitting here at my desk and the computer does everything, I don’t have any control over it, it’s just my job.” what a crock of crap! Do NOT call these people back because the calls will only multiply! This will continue until there is enough of an outcry that something is done.

    • John

      I am having the same issue, I think what has happened to us is that they are using the address, which in my case, was the address of the person in debt, but they moved years ago. The address search is coming up with the phone number that you/I have changed it to and will continue I suppose. I’m probably just going to drop the phone service. Hopefully they won’t tag my cell phone which is tied to this address. I’m just going to have to tie my business directly to my cell instead of having it forwarded.

    • SMITTY

      Lauri – I’m with you! I have the same thing happening. I went on vacation for one week and when I returned I had 57 msgs all of those pre-recorded ones that don’t care if a live person comes to the phone or not!! It’s always for someone with same last name as me – SMITH!!! It may be easier to change my last name to something like Gueckenhimerschmidt
      than my phone number!

  • Eric

    I purchased a home 2.5 years ago from a person who obviously was experiencing financial problems. Since then we’ve had the sheriff’s office try to serve papers on the former owner at our house, we receive at least 3-6 calls a day (yes, every day) from creditors looking for the previous owner, and the recorded messages they leave offer no opportunity to contact them about the fact that the number they are calling does not have any connection to the person they are attempting to reach. When we answer the calls as they come in, there is also no option to talk to a live person…even if you press one to say you’re the intended recipient of the call. All very frustrating considering that we pay our bills on time and rarely get any calls that are actually for us.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Crazy isn’t it? There needs to be some kind of system in place for people like you to opt out of these kinds of calls. Make sure you at least file a complaint with the FTC (FTC.gov) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumerfinance.gov).

    • Roger Clayton Fountain

      I would try and research their number- if they even leave one or you have caller id. Go from there and hope that it leads you to a way to find out who they are and contact them. I would also document every time they call you. If you were to ever answer the phone when they call, I think that wuld be the best way to catch them at their game. Then I would sue them for violations of law. Just my two cents….
      Good luck.

      Roger C. Fountain
      Plano, Texas

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  • Ashley

    Gerri,

    I’m not sure if you’re still replying, but I have an important question. I am caretaker for one of my relatives and she gets Bill Collector/Telemarketing calls daily. Today there were about 6 and the day is only halfway through.

    Whenever I’ve answered and told them I’m not who they’re looking for but ask what they’re calling for, they immediately hang up on me or will not tell me why.

    My question is: Can I tell them to stop calling even if they’re not asking for me?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ashley.

      Are you caring for an elderly or disabled relative who is getting these calls? Do you know what her financial situation is? There are several options but it would help to know what’s going on.

      The telemarketing calls should be easy to stop. Just have her call the Do Not Call Registry at 888-382-1222 from the number she wishes blocked.

  • Ashley

    Yes, I am living with an elderly, disabled relative who is getting the calls. She can speak and answer the phone, she just prefers that I take care of the financial and important things. I know she is in debt with one or two companies. One is recent, about a year ago, but she receives mail from them so I am not sure it would be them calling. Hope that helps a little…

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Ashley,

      If she can get on the phone to talk with them it would be helpful. If they are third party debt collectors, she can request they send her something in writing. They are required to do so by law. Once you have that information, then you can discuss with her whether she can afford to pay it or not. What she can do about the debt depends on how much she owes, how old the debt is, whether she has anything the debt collector can go after, etc. But simply ignoring the calls isn’t wise as she may end up being sued.

  • Karen

    Hi Gerri, I’m so glad I found your page, hopefully I can get some answers to help resolve my issue. For the last few years I’ve been getting calls from check collectors for my husbands cousin. We haven’t been in contact with her in over 30 years but somehow the collectors have found our number. Most of them I ask to remove my number and they comply, although they are usually quite rude about it. However, for the last 2 days, I’ve gotten repeated calls from one company who just won’t give up. I ask for him to remove my number, he just keeps talking, trying to tell me case numbers and contact information. I’ve told him 3 or 4 times I have no contact information for my husbands cousin (he does not know the relationship, I just say, “The person you are looking for does not live here and I do not know how to contact her”). If I don’t answer the phone, he leaves messages on the answering machine. The phone company says there is nothing they can do about it and maybe we should change our number. Big help, they’ll just get it again. What can I do to get these people to leave us alone?!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I can empathize with you. My middle school daughter still gets collection calls for the person who used to have her cell phone number – and she’s had that number for two years! You’ve done what you can to get them to stop; I think it’s time to talk with an attorney. You should be able to get a free consultation with a consumer law attorney, and if the attorney thinks you have a good case he or she may be willing to help you at no cost to you. That’s because if the debt collector is found to be breaking the law, it will have to pay your attorney’s fees.

      Another thought: Have you tried putting the phone number they are calling you from in a search engine online so you can at least find the name of the firm they are calling from? That information will be helpful when you talk with the attorney.

      In addition, I encourage you to file a complaint with the FTC at FTC.gov and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency at ConsumerFinance.gov. The CFPB recently announced it is looking into the practices of the largest collection agencies. They need to hear what kinds of problems consumers are having.

      • Karen

        Thank you for your speedy reply. I will see if I can find an attorney to speak to. They didn’t call today, I was all set to request the company name, address, fax number and the employees name and ID number. I found a cease calling letter last night in my searching that I was going to send them. I tried searching for their number, I’ve done that before with success, however this time I got nowhere. I found results but they want you to pay for them and I’m not sure I’m that desperate yet. So I have no idea what the name of the company is this time until they call again, if they call again. I may see about speaking to an attorney anyway because I seem to get a new set of calls, from a new company, about once a month. And I’ll definitely contact the CFPB, if it helps to let them know how innocent people are being harassed, I’m on it! Thanks again for your reply and I’ll let you know how things go.

  • Andrea

    I’m getting phone calls for location/phone for my ex husband, every day, multiple times
    same agencies. His music store went bankrupt. Initially I told them I don’t know him and they have the wrong phone no. I literally don’t have a clue, what he’s doing or where he’s at much less anything else. I’ve since been happily remarried and have 2 kids for 17 years, so you can see how my life is a total different world. This has been going on for over 6 months, I’m no longer barely answering the phone because mostly that’s who call our home line except for family/doct appts. My kids however are starting to ask why this happening and what is going on mom. This is getting to be a real inconvenience for my life. I understand now I should have said yes that I know him, but no I know nothing of him. I did that a few times and I was pressed and pressured with them saying, are you sure you don’t know, do you know about his brother and urged to admit that I do know where they are. That made me feel very uncomfortable to feel pressured though I told I didn’t know anything about his whereabouts. If I understand correctly, I’m in SC, I should ask for the name of the caller and the address and name of the collection agency they work for. Ask them to no longer call. Should I write a letter? Then if I receive more calls notify them at the time that I will be reporting them to the FTC and filing a claim with FDCPA. I hope you can help me.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Andrea,

      You don’t have to help this debt collection agency find your ex and you don’t have to put up with repeated calls from them either. You can ask them for their mailing address and send them a certified letter telling them they are calling your ex, you can’t help them locate him and instruct them not to contact you again. If they do, talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in debt collection cases. The attorney may be willing to help you for free.

      It sounds like there may be multiple problems with their collection efforts here. The debt may have been discharged in bankruptcy, in which case they shouldn’t be trying to collect it; the debt may be outside the statute of limitations; and if the collector knows your ex’s location they should not be contacting you anyway. I am not an attorney, so please keep in mind this is not legal advice.

  • Melissa

    Hi Gerri,
    I get calls frequently from a collection agency called Portfolio Recovery. I don’t answer the phone and they don’t leave a message. I don’t have any debt, and I’m sure they have the wrong number. I’ve had my phone number for almost 10 years. The calls started about a year ago. I’ve blocked the numbers, but they keep calling on new ones. I can only block 20 at a time. What else can I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Melissa,

      You should answer the phone at least once to find out why they are calling. Take notes of whom you talk with, what time and date they called etc. Assuming this number does not belong to the person they are trying to reach, tell them they have the wrong number and ask them to stop calling. If they call again, contact a consumer law attorney. The attorney may be willing to help you for free because if the collection agency is breaking the law it will likely have to pay the attorney’s fees.

  • Michelle

    I recently got a second landline and I’ve been getting phone calls for someone else – about her debt, about how her insurance is going to be cancelled, etc. I’ve also gotten calls from her relatives. I thought maybe her number was similar to my new one, so I looked her up in the phone book. Not even close. It finally got so annoying, I had the number changed. It’s been about a month since I did this and the last week I’m getting messages for this same person again! I don’t understand this. If they’re calling the previous number, how is it getting reconnected to my new line????

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Really good question…are the databases the collectors are using picking up the phone number change? If so, that’s nuts! I hope you’ll complain to the FTC (FTC.gov) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov). And keep good records of all the calls. If these are third party collectors calling and they won’t stop after you’ve asked them to, you may be able to take legal action against them.

  • Amanda V

    Hello Gerri,

    On the 20th of April, I (and my mother) started receiving calls for my brother’s debt. I don’t know how they got my number. I usually have the ringer off because of class so I have never had the opportunity to answered. I would like to know how to stop this. Should I call back? What should I do? I always pay everything on time. I was not the one who gave credit to a person that recently got out of bankruptcy. So how does my brother’s and capital one’s bad decisions become my problem? I have anger at both so I need your help on how to handle this the best way. Thank you, Amanda

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Hi Amanda,

      It’s pretty easy for them to get that kind of information, unfortunately. If you and your mom are not responsible for this debt, then just call them and tell them that it’s not your debt, you can’t help them and you don’t want them to call again. Take notes of your conversation. If they call again, tell them you’ll contact a consumer law attorney.

      You are not obligated to help them try to collect your brother’s individual debt so don’t feel like you have to provide them with details about your brother’s situation.

      • Sarah Z

        Thank you so much for your advice, Gerri. My boyfriend (whom I live with) has debt issues, and his wages are already being garnished. We are slowly working on resolving his problems. I started getting his collection calls (from an unknown number) a few months ago, but as I understand it I have no obligation to help them or pay for him.

        Next time they call, I’ll ask what company they’re calling for, find out who I’m speaking to, tell them it’s not my debt and I can’t help them, and ask them to remove my name and number. Should I even tell them my relationship to the debtor? Should I tell them I’ll pass the info along to my boyfriend, or that he knows about it?

        Thanks again!

        • http://www.credit.com Gerri

          Sarah – Whether you want to offer to pass along that information is really up to you. I’d suggest you do tell your boyfriend and encourage him to figure out what he wants to do with regard to this debt, but you aren’t obligated in any way to get involved as a messenger between the the collection agency and him.

  • Cl

    I am receiving auto-dialed/computer generated collection calls almost every night for the past several weeks. The person they are trying to reach is NOT me and I have had this same phone # for 30 years ! It’s a recording that gives a number to call to make a payment. I tried calling that # (my phone # is restricted so it will not show in their system when I call) thinking I could talk to someone and tell them they are calling the wrong GD # ! The number is another recording that ONLY gives payment options. So I have no way of even notifying these AH’s they are calling the wrong #…meanwhile the real debtor is not even being pursued or contacted…just brilliant !

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Crazy isn’t it? Have you been able to identify the name of the collection agency calling?

  • LP

    After getting collection phone calls for over a year, all about people I’ve never met, I changed my phone number. A few days later, the phone calls began again! I am wondering if they got my new phone number from the phone directory, since I’d need to pay my phone company more to stay unlisted.

    I get many of these phone calls a day, and they are all from different phone numbers, including “Unavailble”, as well as out of state phone numbers, so the usual advice won’t really work – I don’t have time to send hundreds of certified letters to all of these people, and track down all of their addresses/company names.

    Of course, I’ve tried telling the truth – “You have the wrong number” – for a year, but that did not work. I looked up some phone numbers on Google, and went to the company websites so I could email them about the problem, but they do not provide email addresses.

    I can’t believe I changed my phone number for nothing. I’d like to help you advocate for a National Do Not Call List for debt collectors, this is so stressful and wrong.

    In the meantime, I’m ready to contact a lawyer – do you have any advice on choosing the best lawyer, who will take the case for free?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The National Association of Consumer Advocates NACA.net has an attorney locator service on their site you may find helpful. You can look for someone in your state with experience in debt collection cases.

  • E.D.

    I have a question… I am receiving 8+ calls a day from capital one concerning a debt for someone I don’t know. They call and I answer then they hang up. When I don’t answer they leave messages. I spoke with them over a week ago and asked them not to call me anymore because ai don’t even have a capital one card. Everyday 8+ calls and every day I call them back and ask them to stop calling me. They say Ok we removed your number. Today on sunday they called me 10x I called them back and asked again for them to stop calling.., then they called 4 more times. The last call was around 7:00pm. I asked them if this was a collection call or a telemarketing call. They said it was a collection call. I asked who they worked for and the name of the agent. She said she was not permitted to tell me. I asked why they kept calling and hanging up.. She admitted they use auto dialing. I asked to speak to her supervisor who also refused to give me their name. I’m annoyed and pretty sure it’s not legal to call a random person over 8 times a day and hang up. What should I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      E.D. – I would suggest you talk with a consumer law attorney who takes on Fair Debt Collection Practices cases. If they are breaking the law, the attorney may take your case for free.

  • Cheryl

    Got an collection call on my voicemail mentioning a past due with a company I have never heard of or dealt with in any way. The call was from a commercial business to business collection agency and I have never owned a business. Can this be identity theft? Or just a mistake?
    I know for a fact that this debt does not belong to me but I am concerned about calling them.
    Are mistakes difficult to clear up?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I would get too worried about it yet Cheryl. There are numerous reasons why you may have gotten that call. If they keep calling, talk with them. Take notes! Find out what they are calling about, who it is etc and respond accordingly. If they keep calling after you tell them to stop, come back and let us know so we can discuss further.

      • Cheryl

        Thank you. Should I return the call right away or should I wait? I found out that they contacted a couple of friends several days before they contacted me, I would think if they had my number that they would have called my number first-so apparently they didn’t have my number at first. I’ve had the same phone number for more than 20 years.

        They left info on my friend’s voicemail regarding the past due account–including the name of the other party.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If it were me, I would contact them just to find out what’s going on.

  • Sandy

    Creditors keep calling my home phone for someone else when I am @ work, is there a way to put her number on a call list instead of mine.

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Annoying isn’t it? There’s no such list that I am aware of. Maybe a reader has another suggestion…

  • Kayla

    How do I stop/report bill collectors who are harassing and verbally abusing me, the employer, when they are denied access to speak with the debtor, my employee?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kayla,

      Have you established whether they are a legitimate collection agency or a debt collection scammer? If the former then a consumer law attorney who sues collection agency would probably be happy to talk with you at no cost. If they think you (or the debtor involved) has a good case, they will often help the debtor for free since the collection agency may have to pay their fees. If it’s an overseas debt collection scam, however, you’re going to have to try some of the guerilla tactics I described my recent article 7 Ways to Stop Overseas Debt Collection Scam Calls.

  • roxy

    Very useful information here. Thanks everybody!

    Besides the debt collectors that are calling my number to look for somebody else, I have another problem. And this is pretty disturbing :) I get automatic calls from some kind of erotic line or something. If I don’t answer the phone, they leave voicemail messages. Every week, one call, one message, from a girl talking about what she wants to do bla bla. Maybe if I was a man, that would be nice, but I;m not, so any ideas how I can make them stop? :) Thanks!

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Lovely. Have you tried calling your phone company to see what they suggest?

  • Andrew

    I’ve got a slightly different problem. My wife’s name is very similar to someone who owe’s money (and I’ve double checked, the person who owes the money is male, and has a different social security number then my wife, so I am 100% sure the debt is not hers). Instead of getting calls, I get mail, certified letters, and even worse, process servers showing up at my door regularly. Every time I contact the agency, and get our address removed from the list. Sometimes it takes more then one try, but so far I haven’t had anyone who didn’t accept the correction. And so far no one has started calling as a result of my calls to get us removed. The problem is that a month or two later, I get another collection agency trying to collect the debt, and have to start all over again. Even worse, it seems like the original holder of the debt sold the debt to someone else (or else the guy owes multiple creditors just over $6,000 each), so I am going through the same thing with the same collection agencies for a different creditor all over again. And when I explain this to them, they explain to me that any previous interaction was for a different debt, even though the amount doesn’t seem to vary. Not only does it take up my time, but having process servers regularly show up at my front door upsets my wife and really pisses me off. Its not the process servers fault, but they are the ones I end up yelling at as they are the ones showing up at my door. Any ideas what to do?

    • Rose B

      There might already be a court judgment placed against your wife – debt collectors don’t care if they target the wrong person.

  • Tim

    Perhaps someone here can help me. I am a Massachusetts resident receiving calls at my number for number of years. They are looking for someone I do not know. After repeated attempts of telling them “Please remove me from this list, as I am not this person nor do I know who this is” – I keep receiving robo-calls looking for said person. Press 9 if I am this person.

    In our state, I know there are consumer laws, but what would be the best approach?

    Thanks :)

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Tim,

      Do you know the name of the collection agency that keeps placing the robo calls?

  • Janet

    On my work phone, I have been getting collection calls and auto calls to serve papers for a woman who has not been employed where I work for over 4 years. I tell them she doesn’t work here and the calls stop for a brief period of time. Next thing I know, the calls start all over again, is there anything I can do, this is starting to feel like harrassment, not to mention it is taking up too much of my time to deal with her mess. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Annoying indeed! First, I would encourage you to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) as they really need to do something about this type of problem.

      The second thing I recommend you do is keep track of the calls; the name and phone number of the collection agency (including the person you spoke with), when they called etc. Ask them for a fax number and fax them a notice stating that person doesn’t work there. Keep a record of these. If the same agencies continue to call, contact a consumer law attorney.

  • Meg

    My family is having the same issue. We live in NYC and keep getting bill collectors calling for someone else, even her relatives have been calling looking for this person. It has been going on for about 8 years we changed our phone number several times but it’s still happening. This person is also using our phone number for cvs and pathmark cupons where you put the number in this person’s name came up on the receipt. I am worried that they also have our address and that her bill collector’s and who ever else is looking for them will mail the bills to our home or worse come to our home. I was thinking about filling a complaint at our local percent. Is there anything we can do to stop this from happening? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Angela Cutter

    After receiving many annoying calls I actually found the name and address of the person they are trying to reach in my local phone directory. They live a couple of miles away and oddly they have the same house number as I do.
    Is there any benefit in informing the collection agencies of this address or should I just continue to ask to be removed from their list ?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You can certainly give them that information – might help to get them off your back – but you aren’t obligated to do so.

  • Judy McCullough

    My elderly father who lives alone, is receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be a debt collector. Said his grandaughter (he hasn’t seen in 6 years) owes money and wants him to pay it for her. Said they can’t make him pay it, but since she gave his phone number as a reference (doubtful) he would have to go to court to fight it. Even implied he signed as a co-signer (on line) Said he would be better off to just pay it. He gets things very confused and doesn’t have caller ID. How can we stop this…if we get their number?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Judy,

      It sounds like it potentially is a debt collection scam since debt collectors are not allowed under federal law to discuss debts with anyone other than a cosigner. Unless he cosigned, they are either a rogue collector or debt collection scammers, which we have written extensively about. You may want to read our article 7 Ways to Stop Overseas Debt Collection Scammers.

      Is it possible to get call screening on your father’s phone so only calls from people he knows gets through? That might help prevent some scammer from talking him into paying money he doesn’t owe.

      If you can get a phone number and identify they are a real company (I have my doubts) then you could talk with a consumer law attorney or file complaints with the FTC, your state attorney general, the BBB etc.

  • Charles

    There’s a guy in my area, and I know his name, and found my cell number on his “professional” Facebook page, but he’s using my phone number to fill out online loan applications. I found this out when a gentleman with an accent that was hard to understand asked for the guy by name, then told me that the phone number was used within the last two days to apply for the loan. Thank goodness the guy was polite and patient, as I was being polite and patient as well. I kindly told him I was not interested and asked that this number be removed from their list. But its getting tiresome answering all the collection agency calls and pay-day loan calls.

    • Guest

      my friend got a call from the collection agency, they said that her mom owed $6000.00 to western sky, and that if she could pay $2600.00 today that they would not prosecute her mother. Then they called her mom back and said that they must have got the wrong person, someone just has the same name as her… is that possible? How did they get her daughters phone number and everything.. is that really a coincidence? This just sounds to fishy?

  • Linda

    I work for a nursing home and we keep getting collection calls for an employee. We have asked that he contact them at home and he hangs up and immediately calls right back. Now, he calls and says nothing just to tie up our phone lines. The number is blocked on the caller ID. How do we just get him to stop calling our business? He’s tying up lines our doctors use to communicate with staff members.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Linda,

      You probably know it is illegal for a debt collector to call an employee at work when it has been instructed not to do so. But not all of these collectors follow the law.

      Does the employee know the name of the collection agency? If not, then he should take one of these calls in order to find out who it is that’s calling. He’s entitled by federal law to that information (though it sounds like this agency may not care what the law says!). If he can get that information then he can send them a certified letter telling them not to call him again.

      If he can’t get that information, then maybe you can try some of the more “creative” ways to stop these collection calls that I wrote about in this post: 7 Ways to Stop Overseas Debt Collection Scam Calls.

  • Naomi

    I get calls from collection agencies. I would like to sue them, but my phone is in someone else’s name (cousin), but I pay the bill. Cousin lives in another town, but can I sue?

    • http://www.Credit.com Gerri

      Naomi –

      If I understand what you are saying, your are getting calls on the phone that is in your cousin’s name, correct? I am not sure how that would work but it shouldn’t cost you anything to consult with an attorney who regularly represents consumers against debt collectors, so you may as well find out.

  • Don

    Hi, I have received Calls on my cell phone from a Company, They ask for a person whom I choose not to disclose any information about. Thats My choice. This Fernando is rude and I have asked him several time to refrain calling my number, once he called me 2 more times after I asked him not to. He asks who I am and I simply say Its none of your Business. I need this company to stop calling my number looking for someone else. Any suggestions would be great. Don

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Don,

      Is this a collection agency? Do you know the name of the company?

      • Don

        Hi Gerri and Thank you for responding, I believe it is a Collection agency and they use the name “Paragon Subrogation Services” This Company has truly crossed over the line in how they conduct themselves. Don

        • Gerri Detweiler

          They do appear to be a legitimate company according to their website. (In other words, not just debt collection scammers.) If it were me, I’d send them a certified letter telling them that they have the wrong person and not to contact me again. I would also tell them that if they do I will be talking with an attorney about filing a case under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. And I would copy the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Of course, you can contact an attorney now for advice as well!

          • Don

            Hi Gerri, I did receive a call today again from Fernanado and the company listed above. I spoke to a woman who is in charge and she indicated that she would be listening to the tape recorded messages. I bet that Fernando will be looking for a new Job……..

            Thank you for your help and heart to help those who need help, Don

  • Michelle

    I am getting calls from a recovery person for my son. He does not live with me. The person keeps calling me several times a week. I told him to stop calling me and he said that he can. He called me 3 times in a row and every time I told him to stop calling me. What can I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Michelle – As I mentioned in the story, if they won’t stop you can sue the collection agency and may be entitled to damages. You may want to talk with a consumer law attorney who regularly represents consumers against debt collectors. They may be willing to help you at no cost since the debt collector will be required to pay your attorney’s fees if it turns out it is violating the FDCPA.

  • Alicia

    An additional tip, do a reverse phone number look up. If the debtor’s name pops up the sites normally have some way to disassociate that name and number, sometimes it is a form, sometimes you have to write an e-mail. Once I did that the collection calls lessened. When we get a phone call for the debtor I mechanically say “We do not know X, they have been using our number, please remove it from your records.” This has drastically reduced the calls we receive at our house. It has gone from several times a week, to maybe once a month. I have dreams of a day when this person’s creditors stop calling me!

  • Harold Rogers

    I am constantly getting calls from a collection agency regarding a debt my son must have. He is in his forties and I have not been responsible for him since he was 18 or so. They of course somehow got my name and are wanting all his personal info, address, phone, work, etc. So far I have either not answered the phone or just tell them my son does not live here. Question? Do I have to provide this info? I have forwarded phone numbers to my son and asked him to fix it. That is all I want to do. Any advice would be helpful.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Harold,

      You aren’t obligated to provide them with those details. Tell them you can’t help them and that if they call again you’ll be calling a consumer loan attorney – then do so!

      • Pat T

        Don’t assume that it’s a legitimate debt. In fact I might assume that it is not. I used to collect (commercial) for a living – Lex-Nex reports sometimes have errors but you can cross-reference with a SSN – – if someone is still in the country and is working, has a phone number or cable TV, bank account or a drivers’ license, the collector can find him or her. The idea that someone with a legitimate debt to collect is calling known relatives to find the debtor is ridiculous. Know why? How do they know you’re a relative? Lex-Nex. The same database that will, unless the person is working under the table or homeless, have the person’s address and, if there is one, phone number.
        It might happen – you might get calls – but it’s highly suspicious.

  • Dan

    Non-stop for six years for Dorwina Ward, I have told next to 20 companies she does not live here and we do not know who she is. Funny there were others at the beginning that I have forgotten about ( one was Kathern Bennett, doesn’t live here). For a couple of months they stop then start up again…..God bless but I have lost all patience and now cuss them all out, Saturday we are dropping our home phone. You would think the phone companies would want to protect you better?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You would, wouldn’t you?

    • Elaine

      I have had numerous calls for someone who I don’t know. I have told them that and to take my number off their list. Needless to say they have not. One day out of frustration I yelled Santa! Ohh Santa why didn’t you get me the pony I asked for? I am sure next year you will remember right Santa? For some reason they hung up. After doing this a few times they stopped calling..should I be offended? lol just kidding..but is sure helped my stress level. :)

  • Heather

    I’m thirteen, and I get many calls from a local number that is PDM, or professional debt mediation. I am always at school when they call, which is usually around 9:00, so I can’t answer. They usually leave a message from a Lisa Wright (Or Right, I can’t tell because it is verbal) from PDM asking for an Ella so-and-so. The most recent one was for a Philip. Towards the beginning they said to ignore the messages if the person was not me. All they said was that the call was urgent and I needed to call them back. I know that I should ask them not to call me, but I’m never there to answer! I also have no idea who these people are. Please help me!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Heather,

      My understanding is that this is the website for PDM: http://www.pdminc.net/. You can send them a letter (with tracking) telling them that the cell phone number they have is wrong and instructing them not to contact you again. Or you can talk with a consumer law attorney. If the collector is breaking the law, you may be entitled to damages and the collector would be required to pay the attorney’s fees.

      Let us know what happens!

      Gerri

  • Jennifer Kelley

    I got a call a few days ago from a company that was looking for a person with my name. They wanted to verify my birthday. I was hesitant at first but then realized that a birth date is not really private. When I gave them my birthday they said that they have the wrong person and asked if I knew anybody in my city with the same name. I said that I had no idea. Today my father in law called and sounded uncomfortable. He received a call from a collection agency looking for me. The company was called Dynia and Associates with a phone number of 888-376-2713. I was so embarrassed. I know for 100% that they are not really looking for me. I am really mad. Now I have to worry about further embarrassment of them contacting other friends or family members and they have the wrong person. What if they call my job? So when I called the company they were not even able to find me in their system. They wanted me to give me my social security number so they could look it up. Really, are they crazy? I told her no way. She apologized and said she could not help me. What do I do? I know this is just a mistake but how do I protect my reputation with friends, family, and my work?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jennifer – They probably called your Dad because they are looking for someone by your name and they are using some kind of skip tracing service that lists all possible relatives/employers etc for the person who has the same (or a similar) name to you.

      It’s very hard to trace this kind of problem down to the source. I know it’s upsetting, but I don’t know any way to prevent this kind of mix up. Check your credit reports and see if addresses that don’t belong to you are showing up. If so, dispute them as that may be one of the ways you are getting mixed up with this other person. (It’s also a good idea to make sure her info doesn’t appear on your reports.)

      However, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is looking at the debt collection and credit reporting industries.

  • Maggie Moore

    I keep getting calls for a woman regarding several different things from several different people/agencies/debt collectors. I get at least one call a day! I live in NY state, does anyone know what I should do? I also tell several of the numbers that I am not this woman but the calls keep coming. Help! I would really like to keep my number…and I’ve had it for about 8 years and the calls started last year.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Contact your phone company and find out whether they offer a call screening service. Also file complaints with your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Amanda W

    I have been receiving phone calls for the last year from a financial company. They used to call 8-12 times a day. I have told them numerous times they have the wrong number and to please stop calling. A few have told me that theu would remove my number from their files, however they have not. A few have left messages saying that even though I told them they have the wrong number that simce that was the number they have they will not stop calling until that man calls them back. Yesterday they called 30 times within a 5 minute span. (actually did call 30 times) they are as well quite rude when they leave messages. I have called consumer affairs and filed a complaint, but the calls continue.

  • Lee Findley

    A former resident at my address is getting collection calls on my number. The telephone number was never her number. All that I can surmise is that they did an address search, in case she had just changed her number. Is this legal?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      They probably did a skip trace that associated the address and phone number. As I pointed out in the article this is not easy to stop but you may want to try some of the approaches I described in the article.

  • Nicole

    My mom and I keep getting calls from several diffrent collection agencys. They keep calling for either the husband or wife and no matter what we say they wont stop calling. We have had our number for a year and its been getting worse. I have tried talking to the people and telling them they have the wrong number. They either dont believe me and ask to speek with them agian acting like I never said they have the wrong number, or they will hang up and call right back. We have tried answer the phone with our last name “__”residence and they will either hang up or ask to speek to the people they are looking for. We try to be nice or polite but we are finding it harder and harder to be nice becuase they are getting more and more agressive and its not even out debt! What would be the best way of fixing this solution besides changing out number, it feels like it would be to much of a hassel to try and take them to court but nothing we do seems to make them stop!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Nicole – Unfortunately sometimes there is no easy way to resolve these situations. I tried to lay out some ideas in the article but I haven’t found the magic bullet that will make them stop. If you can get the name and fax number of the company calling, try faxing them a letter telling them to stop contacting you. And file a complaint against them with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • kmg

    I got my number over a year ago and people have been calling nonstop for the previous owner of this number. I slowly got most of them to go away. There is this one number that calls ten times a day acting like I’m lying. They wake up my baby. They threaten me. What can I do about this? Who do i contact? No matter what I say they won’t stop calling and I don’t even knlw the guy they want!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Do you know the name of the company that’s calling? If so, check to see if they are a legitimate collector (and not a scammer). If they are a “real” debt collection agency. then talk with a consumer law attorney. You may find these additional articles helpful: 7 Ways to Stop Overseas Debt Collection Scam Calls and 9 Ways to Turn the Tables on Debt Collectors.

      • kmg

        They will not tell me what company they are from. They ask my name and start asking me crazy questions then act like im hiding the person they called for

  • Jim C

    If you have the ability to forward SPECIFIC phone numbers (not callers that you might want to hear from at your other phone #) to some other number, simply forward the 2nd caller’s number to the first caller’s number, and everytime they change phone #’s, simply add the new # to the list.

    After a while, they’ll be talking to each other and wondering what happened. Comcast in my region has this feature. Where I HAD been getting 1 to 2 minute long recordings on my voice mail in the past, the phone doesn’t even ring here now when one of those callers is on the line. I presume that it rings somewhere, and many new friends are being made amongst the collectors!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jim – I love it! There’s creative thinking. :)

  • lyl

    I found a nifty service on my Verizon fios home phone. There may be apps for cell phones It gives you the opportunity to block phone calls you don’t want or to accept only certain phone calls. If anyone calls that is not on the list my phone does not ring. The system interrupts the call and states “party is not accepting calls at this time.”
    So I never hear the phone ring. Every so often I over ride and let the calls come through to see how many calls I am getting from collectors. It has dropped considerably. I have had the same # for 17 years. I hate the calls that ask for someone else. Had a so called lawyer calling for a person to pay his debt. I called and left messages on their phone. They have never quit calling. i don’t think they are lawyers.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Interesting – do you have to pay for it? How much does it cost?

  • Pingback: 9 Ways to Turn the Tables on Debt Collectors | Credit.com News + Advice()

  • Amy B.

    I am a stay at home mom and I’m getting calls all the time from creditors looking for someone with the same name as my husband. We have a common last name. None of these companies we have ever had business with but even after I have told them, look, it’s not us, please stop calling us, they still keep calling. Of course when they ask for someone with my husband’s name, I say he’s not here. But when I ask why they are calling then they tell me the company, sometimes. I guess they just think I’m lying but it’s really annoying to be taking some of these calls several times a week. Do these collection companies just look up the phone numbers of everyone with the same name and hope they hit the right one? Because there are thousands of people just in the US with his name.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes they use skip tracing databases to try to locate consumers. Start keeping good records of who has called, and when you told them to stop calling. If they continue, contact a consumer law attorney or at least file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state attorney general.

  • Reva

    Well my husband keep geting a cal from the collection compamy call legal prevention services. I google this company it does not exist at all. They claim he owes 781.00 from an old bank acc. My husband says he close it out, and they claim it he has interest and late fees to. I know for a fact that bank do not charge intersert or late fees have the account had been over drawn or close-out. please help , i need some info how to go about this. my email is shardayin2003@yahoo.com

  • Sue Waterman

    It it illegal for someone else with a similar name to use my home telephone number on their mortgage application and also to have their auto fixed? I received a call from a debt collector that advised me that this person used my home phone number on a check to get their auto glass fixed. They have similar name but different address. I also got a call from a mortgage company wanting to assist with mortgage problems. I called them and told them they have my telephone number but I don’t have a mortgage with them. Both parties were glad to flag my number as not belonging to the applications, but meanwhile, can a police report help? I know who this person is because of the address that is associated with the check and the mortgage. The debt collector also gave me the VIN number or their vehicle to report to police.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes, that is called identity theft. I’d suggest you file a police report and place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

  • Someone whose name’s not William

    I kept getting these for a while. The calls were anonymous so I don’t know which collection agency they were, and they would call me a consistent 2-4 times a day asking for William in a thick Indian accent. I would politely tell them that I am not William and that they have the wrong number. That didn’t stop the calls unfortunately. Since I usually decline anonymous calls, it took me a couple months before I realized who was trying to call me. They would occasionally fill my inbox with messages saying that if I am not William to stop listening to the message then go on to say that William owed a substantial debt.

    I found an app that blocks calls by doing a quick pickup-hangup everytime someone calls me anonymously which prevents them from even leaving a voicemail. After that the calls and messages ended completely. A year later, I just checked the blocked calls list and discovered that for that entire year, I had been consistently receiving those anonymous calls 2-4 times a day quite nearly everyday. They didn’t get it when I told them I am not William, and they didn’t get it when I didn’t answer a single call from them in over a year. I’m kind of wondering if I should do something about it or continue letting the call blocking app take care of the problem.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am not sure what you can do. If they aren’t legit then no amount of complaints will stop them. If you can get the name of the collection agency try reporting them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Kay Dean

    I keep getting phone calls for someone looking for a man with the same name as my ex father-in-law. I have been divorced for about 25 years, and he has been dead for about 20 years. I have told them every time they call there is no one living here by that name, and that the only one I ever knew by that name I haven’t seen in over 20 years BECAUSE HE IS DEAD. They keep calling back again and again. I got mad today and told them to take my name off their list. The lady told me they had me listed as his relative. I told them again that I only have this name by marriage, and haven’t been married in 25 years, and that the man I knew with that name has been dead for years. I rudely told them again to take my name off their list. How do I get this to stop? It happens twice a week, and I work from home, so I don’t need to keep going through this.

    • A.D.

      By law, if you’ve told them to take your number off the list they HAVE to remove it.. I would take their number down and report them to the Federal Business Bureau. I used to work for a telemarketing company so I know this for a fact. Hope this helps.

      • FistedSister

        The laws only matter if someone enforces them.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    DD – this raises a couple of red flags and could mean that someone tried to apply for credit in your name and with your information. The only way to know for sure is to access your credit reports, and in this case — it may be worth it just to play it safe. If you haven’t already done so, we’d suggest ordering your free annual credit reports to see if this is actually the case. I’ve provided resources to help you through the process and also included identity theft protection resources in the event you find that this is an identity theft case:

    Ordering Your Free Credit Reports & Steps to Correcting Errors:
    How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Report
    A Step-by-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes
    8 Rules of an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

    Dealing with Identity Theft:
    Identity Theft Emergency: 5 Crucial Steps for Victims
    Identity Theft Victim’s Bill of Rights
    Consumer Guide to Identity Theft: The Basics

  • Jessy

    This writer may know a bit about this situation but not much, as you can read from her article. 1) Never give out your name or telephone number to these people. They know what number they’re calling, tell them to take yours off and not to call back. NOT! But that’s not going to happen. The do not call registry is no help to anyone going through this. And after putting my number on the list on numerous occasions I got more calls afterwards. People who have registered are convinced that this agency is part of the problem and they sell your numbers and information and build a file on you, etc. The companies that call you don’t care about the registry; they know its a joke and can’t do squat to them. What can they do, really?! Do they have the ability to go after these people; give you the power to block all calls and expose the numbers; prosecute them? No! Even after you contact them and put your number on the list they keep calling. They have no power at all. How can you find or do something to them when they are robo callers? The numbers change with every call. It’s computer generated. They hide behind fake numbers, etc. The telemarketers are the ones with the power because they are giving the congressmen, govt. monies and this is why this happens. Without these lobbyists the phone companies would be dead in the water. You can research that online if you want to. With so many people using land lines and especially cell phones there should be a digital signal button that can be pressed to disable and expose these telephone numbers and cripple their system, and stopping all calls! But no, we are in our homes and have to be angered; go to get the phone and it’s these scum bags, again! We are harassed and bothered to the point of tears because we should be able to be in our homes without going through this. The *77 does not work on these calls. I just got a call today from V07231923590019-2581! Imagine that and this is a brand new number I have, unlisted, private and the same company that had been calling me without end is able to get through. I get calls from 847-496-3390 with this number on top V72219093300004. These calls are from a company that wants me to do business with them instead of Con Ed. These idiots think that they can bully, harass, aggravate, wear you down and break you down and you will give them your information or buy some fake service they’re trying to get you to fall for. Which will never happen! I’ve been studying this for 8 years and I know what the problem is. My phone company is the problem. My number is private, unlisted and they’re still able to get through? I didn’t give anyone my number, so how are they able to keep getting through? They have a digital lock on my modem. Time Warner gave me new numbers that third party or collections calls cannot get through and I’m still getting the calls. Even after they reset my modem, I’m still getting the calls. Not to mention: I pay $100.00 to swap the number and get new ones. They have a digital lock on my modem, that’s why they can call and use numbers like the ones above and the company has no idea what’s up and I still get harassed and nothing has changed. I know it’s because of my modem so I did a hard reset on my router. How it works.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jessy – You’re right that this is a frustrating problem and very difficult to fix. A couple of companies just won the FTC’s $50,000 challenge to come up with a solution to robocalls, Hopefully those solutions will be coming on the market soon – and will work!

  • brooke faircloth

    my friend got a call from the collection agency, they said that her mom owed money, and that if she could pay a portion today that they would not prosecute her mother. Then they called her mom back and said that they must have got the wrong person, someone just has the same name as her… is that possible? How did they get her daughters phone number and everything.. is that really a coincidence? This just sounds to fishy? what do you think?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Very true — adding your name to the National Do Not Call Registry does not apply to collection calls. Who is covered by the National Do Not Call Registry?

    “The National Do Not Call Registry applies to any plan, program, or campaign to sell goods or services through interstate phone calls. This includes telemarketers who solicit consumers, often on behalf of third party sellers. It also includes sellers who provide, offer to provide, or arrange to provide goods or services to consumers in exchange for payment.

    The National Do Not Call Registry does not limit calls by political organizations, charities, or telephone surveyors.”

    For more info, visit the National Do Not Call Registry at https://www.donotcall.gov/

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    They can call your son and discuss the details of the debt with him, but under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act they cannot share the details of his debt with anyone else (unless it’s a spouse). In your situation, because you and your son live in the same house, so your son really needs to address and deal with the collector. For more information on how to approach the situation and how best to deal with the collector, the following resource may help your son negotiate with the collector:

    9 Ways to Turn the Tables on Debt Collectors

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    That’s a good question. if it’s not unlisted they may be getting it through one of the databases they use for skip tracing purposes. Does your phone company offer a call screening service where they have to announce themselves and you decide whether to accept the call? That usually cuts down on calls significantly though some companies do charge for that service.

  • Charlie

    I am a double Amputee with a heart condition and keep getting calls from dept collectors for someone else I have ask them to take me off List often but they never do.Now when they do call I get upset and so do they.but they keep calling. It impossible to keep them From calling me a liar and keep calling.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Charlie —
      So sorry these calls keep coming and upsetting you. Do you know the name of the debt collection agency? If so, you can file complaints with your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Another possible option is to ask if your phone company offers a call screening service. Or, if you have a smartphone, you could try an app designed to block troublesome callers.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You do have every right to be upset. The same thing has happened to my daughter with her call phone – starting when she was 11 years old! As my article pointed out, there isn’t a simple solution, but at this point I think it boils down to two options. One is to talk with a consumer law attorney to see if they think you have a case under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The other is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (ConsumerFinance.gov). Provide them with as many details as you can so they can hopefully help you resolve the issue.

    Will you let us know what happens?

    • gusmom

      My husband is experiencing a situation much like this one. He receives numerous calls for someone named Jennifer, especially near every month end. Yesterday evening he counted all of the calls and there were 19 just for that day! He has repeatedly told the callers that he is not Jennifer and that he does not know her. He has requested that they stop calling. He has asked to speak with management to put an end to the calls but they continue. He believes that Jennifer continues to give this phone number when she makes purchases because doing so fulfills the request of the seller for contact info, yet, she knows that when she fails to pay the bills, they actually will have no way of reaching her! It is very irritating for my husband to receive these calls all day during work. He handles safety for his employer so he has to answer calls in case they could be due to an injury or other safety issue. This has been going on for over 3 years now! He doesn’t want to change phone numbers because of the inconvenience of letting so many of his contacts know a different number.

  • Kay

    I’ve been getting calls for over 6 years now for some Jonathan Allen guy. I repeatedly tell them this is not Jonathan Allen and have gotten into yelling matches with these people. I don’t know what else to do because they always call from a different number and no one will tell me what company they are! For the past few months I have been getting calls about another person named Michael Gutierrez. It’s extremely frustrating.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    First, there’s good news on liability. If you did not incur the debt, you are not liable for it because of a shared address. Coming to your door probably does not equal trespassing (think about package delivery, for example). Third, no, it doesn’t matter if she acquired the debt somewhere else or that it was more than a year ago (although in some cases time does matter). You can read more about that here:
    Does Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • FistedSister

    “Salvo says, “My clients are really trying to just collect debts from
    people who owe them. There’s no benefit to them to keep calling the
    wrong person. If you tell them, they will stop.” She recommends trying
    to get someone on the phone and asking them to remove your number from
    their records.”

    BULL. They will call. And call. And call. Most of them think you are lying and trying to avoid them. The rest don’t care. They will not stop calling. I keep changing my number and everytime I get a number that belonged to some deadbeat. I wish people who can’t pay their bills were not allowed to change numbers. They are ruining the phone for everyone. I am going to have to get my 7th number in 3 years today. Hopefully THIS one didn’t belong to some deadbeat.

  • Robin

    Completely useless to tell people to contact an attorney. Not sure what world the writer lives in, but real people can’t afford attorney’s fees to handle this sort of issue.

    As for the mouthpiece for the industry, they are not simply trying to collect debts from people who owe them. They are trying to collect debts that have long since passed the statute of limitations date, that were never valid debts to begin with, or many that were paid years before but they refuse to accept documentation of that. To even include her comments on this is a joke.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Robin – There are attorneys who handle debt collection cases that will charge nothing for their services if they think the consumer has a good case. That’s because if a collector violates the FDCPA, they will have to pay the consumer’s attorneys fees. And if the collector calls the person’s cell phone it may also be a violation of the TCPA. (I have an article coming out about this soon.)

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    If this is a legitimate debt collector (and not a scammer) then you may be able to make him stop by either getting a consumer law attorney involved or filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As we mention in this article, these repeated calls after you’ve told them to stop are probably illegal. If he’s a scammer, though, then it will be harder as he could care less about abiding by US laws. You may get some ideas from this article: 7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    That’s true. However, the repeat callers may not be from legitimate debt collectors. And rogue collectors (or scams) are often based overseas. (See 7 Ways to Stop Debt Collection Scam Calls.)

  • bubbasayswhat

    Sometimes I am lonely and when I get these calls, I just go into my life story and what ailments are currently affecting me. I also tell them all about my cats and how my lawn is really green this year. I just ignore everything they say and keep on with my story. LOL, or sometimes I will ask to them to hold on and just put the phone face down on the table and wait for the beeping of their hanging up to occur, then I hang up!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I couldn’t agree more. I’d suggest you share your experience with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is looking into this. I don’t see why there couldn’t be a “do not call” list for collection accounts, and my understanding is there are a couple of companies working on that.

  • i__have_no_name

    Some HOA debt collection company keeps calling my wife’s cell phone and leaving garbled messages in Spanish/broken English despite having told them they have the wrong number.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Are you able to understand the name well enough to report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s very easy these days. They use databases that can link all kinds of personal information. I wrote about that here: Why You Can’t Hide From Debt Collectors

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Very interesting! You may also want to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as they are looking into this problem and seem genuinely interesting in helping consumers in this type of situation.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s a little bit tricky because debt collectors are not allowed to discuss someone’s debt with a third-party. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to just give them your name (they can look that up with a reverse directory easily anyway), and then if you are not the person they are trying to reach tell them not to call again. Keep a record of that and if they do call again you can either file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or talk with a consumer law attorney.

  • John

    This is incorrect. If you are the debtor and you verbally tell an agency that phone calls are inconvenient to you, they must stop calling. This is because 15 USC 1692c(a) says that collectors cannot contact you at any time or place that it knows OR HAS REASON TO KNOW is inconvenient. There is at least one case, Brzezinski v. Vital Recovery, Eastern District Wisconsin, that specifically holds this.

    If the collector dials the wrong number, you tell collector it is the wrong number, and collector calls again, that has been held not only to violate FDCPA, but to constitute INTENT to violate FDCPA. See Hendricks v. CBE Group, 2012, Northern District Of Illinois.

    I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

  • ds1984

    I just want to know what kind of parent gives their 12 year old daughter a cell phone in the first place!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Love it!

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