Psycho Debt Collectors Will Not Stop Calling Me About Someone Else's Debt

Reader Rachael wants to know if there’s any way she can get a harassing debt collector to stop calling her 3 times a day — looking for someone else who used to have her number.

My boyfriend and I moved into our apartment about two months ago. When we moved in, we were told by the property management that we had to cancel our RoadRunner service and sign up for an account with the local phone company, Cincinnati Bell, for our phone and internet. No big deal, we initially thought. We signed up, got our (slow) DSL connection and free-incoming-calls-only phone line (we did not sign up for a regular phone plan since we use Skype). The activation of that line is when the trouble started.

In the 2 months of having our phone line we have received more phone calls from debt collectors looking for the people who used to have our number, than I have on my cell phone over the past 4 months combined, and I love to talk! They always ask for either the husband or the wife, and push and try to harass me into “giving them a message” the next time I talk to them, no matter how many times I repeat to them that I do not know these people. I looked up my phone number and saw it listed with these people and sent them a letter nicely asking them to update their information with the people and companies they have associated with because I am so tired of these calls, but nothing has happened as of yet.

I am sorry if this seems rather long, but I am almost at wits’ end with all of these collection calls, and I just received another one while typing this out, bringing the total to 3 today. Is there any way to stop collectors from calling me for these people, or am I stuck wondering if I have to answer the phone to find a rude collector on the other end?

Any advice would be very much appreciated!

Well, what these debt collectors are doing is illegal, so the first thing you’ll want to do is start a journal and make a note in it every time they call you. If you can record the calls, do it. Make sure to write down their information and be as detailed as you can.

Inform the debt collectors that they are breaking the law by continuing to harass you over someone elses’ debt, and that you intend to file a lawsuit. In addition to the harassment, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also forbids the debt collectors from comminicating details about debt with a third party, which you most certainly are. So if they’re trying to get to you “deliver a message” about the debt, they’re breaking the law.

Hypothetically, that should clear it up. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to either change your number or consult a consumer lawyer in your area for advice. We have the feeling that consumer lawyers would be enthusiastic about representing you.

If you’re not interested in having some fun with our legal system, try changing your number. Some phone companies are sympathetic to customers who are receiving harassing phone calls and are able to waive the fee.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Bladefist says:

    Definitely. Write a letter and postmark it to them with delivery confirmation demanding they stop harassing you. Written form is very important.

  2. hardtoremember says:

    Ubelievable. I have gotten calls for other people but never that bad. I probably wouldn’t change my number but instead follow your advice and record and document calls and then call a consumer lawyer.
    Somebody has to stand up and teach these people that harrassment is not ok.

  3. Gopher bond says:

    I had this problem as well. Our new phone number was previously that of asome deadbeat that owed all k inds of debts. The problem was that one debt collection company would call, I’d tell them that we just got this number and the make a note of it in the file. That’s fine at all but these debt collection companies always sell these accounts back and forth. so, the new company gets the file and calls the only telephone number in there, mine. I yell at them and tell them to stop calling but they say it’s only the first time they called, and it’s true. It took about 3 years but they finally seem to have died down. It used to be once a week or 3 times a month. Now maybe once a year.

  4. zigziggityzoo says:

    Change number. Done.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    There are a variety of services that display caller ID on your computer. [Here's one: [sunflowerhead.com]] This will make it easier to document the volume and times of these incoming calls.

    Without a lawyer, you could also simply contact your local police. Harrasing phone calls are a crime.

  6. Gopher bond says:

    I agree, change the number before it’s too much of a hassle to change it. It took me years to get the calls to stop. I wish I changed when it first started.

  7. PinkBox says:

    If it’s been only two months since you got that number, methinks a simple call to the phone company for a new one will make the problem go away.

    Unless the debtors somehow get that number too. :/

  8. MissTicklebritches says:

    Aren’t debt collectors also only allowed one call a day per agency?

  9. You don’t have to change your number, they are violating several laws. I would buy a recorder and start recording all future calls from them. (First check to see in your state allows one party notification) Make sure you get the name of the company and contact info on tape.

    Go to creditboards.com or debtorboards.com They will have step by step information on how to sue these idiots

  10. Gopher bond says:

    @SkokieGuy: I used to keep track of them and I found that the company would sell the account to another debt colleciton agency if they couldn’t make any progress. Some companies are more harsh than others. One company would curse at me and wouldn’t beleive I wasn’t the guy they were looking for. Others were much more apologetic. But it’s tought to bring a case against them when they keep selling the account.

  11. pigbearpug says:

    I’d file a lawsuit right now. You could get the phone records from the phone company and see every time they’ve called. That would be much better than a journal…

  12. mariospants says:

    Unfortunately, if there a large number of debt collectors involved, you may never see the end of it (especially if the culprit is running up new debt and either giving his old phone number – your new one – to people or the new collectors will look up his number and call you in the hopes to getting a hook-up to his current whereabouts). Maybe you SHOULD pass on his current contact information

  13. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Have fun with it! Answer every call with “Thank you for calling Pizza Hut, will this be for pickup or delivery?” read something random out of the Bible, or fart into the receiver!

  14. Gopher bond says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Yeah, then they switch to the automated message asking you to call back. Those are the worst kind of collection calls because there’s no fun to be had.

  15. Virginia Consumer says:

    We had this problem and they would not believe that I didn’t know these deadbeats. They stopped for a while then started again. I finally just made up a number and gave it to them, and the problem went away. Probably some violation on my part, but hey it worked and was simple.

  16. kewlfocus says:

    Is it just me, or was anyone else bothered more by the fact that her property manager told her she had to ditch Cable for DSL?

  17. kathyl says:

    I’ve had to report three different debt collectors for calling multiple times (sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes outside the hours they’re allowed to call) for the debts racked up by the people who had our new-ish phone number before we had it.

    One of them even said, “Suuuuuure you don’t know them. Right.” before they hung up on me, only to call again later. One of them was a pre-recorded message auto-dialed by a computer, and they sometimes called me eight times a day.

    I got all the information together after keeping a journal for about a week (and telling every human I talked to what I was doing, that I wasn’t connected in any way to the debt they were trying to collect, and that I WOULD report them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices act) and one of the debt collectors finally agreed to remove the phone number from the contact information in their records. The other three places that had been illegally harassing me didn’t, so I reported them as I’d told them I would. It was easy to fill out the form and simply fill in the details from my log.

    Two of them stopped calling shortly after that (don’t know if it was the report or if they gave up) and the third one used the same number each time, so I got information from my phone provider on how to put a block on a telephone number from calling mine, and I did so. (It was included in my services, so this may be something the OP wants to look into as well if the calls come from the same number or group of numbers.)

    It is an annoying situation, I can tell you. I hope the OP has luck getting them to call off the dogs.

  18. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @testsicles: Hmm…hopefully you can still get at least a few good Jerky Boys moments before they ruin the fun.

  19. Benny Gesserit says:

    @testsicles: I lived with something like that for close to a year – one of the previous owners of my cell # had run out on a debt to the cell people.

    I never understood their reasoning: The fellow had skipped a debt on this very cell number – why/how would he be able to still have the number??

    I finally called and they explained (with asking who I was) that Mark L****** needed to pay his bill. I explained that I wasn’t Mark L****** and, as I’d had this number for quite some time it must have been some time. They helpfully told me the amount owing, the date it was last paid and the date they took it over. (!! so much for privacy)

    The woman seemed satisfied but the “please call us back” calls started again almost immediately.

    I called the service provider and before I’d completed my story, the CSR said “We’ll issue you a new number how about XXX-XXXX it’s just been allocated to us and no one’s had it before.”

    Problem solved – for me, anyway. Some poor schlub gonna get a new cell phone with a bad history any minute.

  20. savvy999 says:

    I had a similar thing happen to me when I first got my present cell # about 3 years ago, but after repeatedly telling collectors I’m not “Jared Loos”– whoever that mofo is he needs to die, btw– the calls have finally dwindled down.

  21. wiggatron says:

    I’ve had this happen before and what worked well for me was just making up a forwarding address and phone number. Sounds kinda shitty, but it’s a quick fix.

  22. strayxray says:

    We just moved into a similar situation. We would receive 4-6 calls a day from Capital One Finance for someone that used to have our phone number. We generally don’t pick up the phone if we don’t recognize the Caller ID and/or they don’t leave a message.

    We finally got tired of listening to the ringer, so we started answering the phone. They were actually accommodating, but let us know that we would have to tell them that we were not the deadbeat in three separate phone calls over the next few days. Although we had to let them know 5 times, they finally stopped.

    Despite getting a handful of calls from other creditors (and random women), the calls finally stopped after about 2 months. I’m afraid it was easier to put up with 2 months of phone calls instead of changing my phone number and updating our contact info with everyone.

  23. Benny Gesserit says:

    Sorry: “(with asking who I was)” should be “(without asking who I was)”

  24. coan_net says:

    Did you ask them not to call again?

    If so, then they should not call again. If you just say they don’t live there, they will keep on calling because many times deadbeats will say that in the hopes of getting people to stop calling… and they keep calling in the hopes of catching them off-guard and such.

    Ask them not to call again – and if so, report them for the violation.

    [Then again a long time ago I had some "mad" father call me about my kid stealing their kids bike - I tried to tell them that it was not my kid since I was at that point unmarried & without child. They kept going on and on about knowing where I live and if I don't bring the bike back they were going to come over there to kick my ass and take the bike back. I finally got tired of him and said "Fine, come over and try to take the bike back you .... some curse word" - and then hung up with him. idiot.]

  25. xwildebeestx says:

    If that’s the only thing you use that line for, just unplug the phone.

  26. coan_net says:

    Ha – better yet. Ask one of them for their phone number that you can give the deadbeats.

    Then when the other place calls, give them the number from the first place… and so on. Maybe you can get them to start calling each other instead of you.

    Might not work for too long… but at least it would be a little bit of fun.

  27. LorneReams says:

    Why am I not this lucky…every time they call you is worth up to $1000 in damages to you after you notify them of their mistake. Small claims court works very well for this sort of thing.

  28. donopolis says:

    I like the idea of giving them a bogus new phone number and address, but, I think you should do a smidge of research and give them a fun address and number…their own if possible.

    D-

  29. The_IT_Crone says:

    I’m having the same thing happen, except that there is NEVER a real person on the line. It’s a recording. And it’s not for the old NUMBER, it’s for the previous occupants of my home.

    They never say WHO they are when they call, and caller ID is no help.

  30. bobpuppet says:

    I have found the best way to deal with unwanted collection call is to send them a cease communication letter. In this letter tell them that your are requesting that they cease calling your number as required by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This letter must be sent certified mail return receipt requested. The receipt is extremely important is you intend to sue them. Collection agencies have a tendency to lose letters.

  31. Ein2015 says:

    “This call will be recorded. If you do not agree, please hang up now.”

    That’ll stop it. :)

  32. JN2 says:

    Send them my #, I LOVE harassing telemarketers and such. (just yesterday, someone begging for a Police Charity got to listen to 4 minutes of NPR until they hung up). He got off easy.

  33. Burgandy says:

    The “lady” who had my cell number before me must have slept with half the guys on Ft Bliss, because I got calls all day long with very suggestive messages. They were great entertainment around the office, then I’d call the guys back and inform them that I had recently gotten the number and my husband was not interested in sharing :)

  34. EyeHeartPie says:

    When we moved in, we were told by the property management that we had to cancel our RoadRunner service and sign up for an account with the local phone company, Cincinnati Bell, for our phone and internet.

    Am I the only one who noticed this line? I thought this was illegal too. I thought property managers were not allowed to force you to do business with one telecom/ISP to avoid the possibility of phone/internet providers bribing apartment complexes or property management companies.

  35. terminalboredom says:

    I have a cell phone number that was previously used by a deadbeat AND has the added bonus of being very easy to mis-dial (it’s all the same digit except for the first and last numbers)…

    I got bill collector calls for someone else for a year, until I just lost it on one of them in the middle of Target one day. They never called back. I also got a lot of funny looks from housewives and children.

  36. arthurat says:

    I had something similar when I got my cell phone. I finally told the caller that the person is dead and he left me his phone number in his will.

  37. So many possibilities for some great phone pranks with this one.

    I agree, have some fun with it!

    Pretend to be an army recruiter (if that’s legal, I don’t know) and do NOT take no for an answer.

    Pretend to be a charity of some sort and thank them for their automatic donation (the donation will show up on their phone bill) they agreed to by calling you.

    Pretend to only speak Swahili.

    Pretend to be a Nigerian Price that needs some help to move some money around.

  38. Snakeophelia says:

    Here’s one reason you should just change the number right away – we discovered that the deadbeat whose RCN landline number we had was STILL USING THAT NUMBER as his own two years after we had been issued it.

    I had managed to get AT&T and so forth to stop calling for him, but then the deadbeat wrote a bad check to a bar owner and the owner called me. Once we realized that the deadbeat was going to continue to defraud people while giving out our phone number as his own, we just cancelled the landline altogether.

  39. zentec says:

    I have to agree with changing the number. I had a cell phone number that was getting collection calls for “Roger”. About the time I’d get those people to stop calling, they’d sell the debt to some other hapless debt collector and the process would start over anew. Every February or March, the calls would start and it would be November before I’d get the collection agency to really believe I’m not Roger.

    The only upside to this is that I can’t imagine the pressure people must feel that have legitimate debt calls.

  40. If you really want to get back at these collectors, make sure that when you mail them a request for validation of the debt that you send it certified mail, return receipt requested. Once the debt collector receives this letter they can’t contact you unless they’ve provided validation of the debt.

    After this chain of events has been established, any calls that they make harrassing you to pay on the debt will be grounds for recourse. But until you have requested the validation, they can pretty much call you all the time (within the accepted hours).

    The best request for validation letter I have seen is from CreditInfoCenter.com -

    [www.creditinfocenter.com]

    The beauty of this letter is that it references both the FDCPA and the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) while also demanding a cease and desist from the phone calls.

    Again, certified mail is your friend.

  41. krom says:

    and sent them a letter nicely asking them to update their information with the people and companies they have associated with because I am so tired of these calls

    Yeah, I’m sure they jumped at the opportunity to start having these collectors harass them. Sheesh. Some efforts are just not worthwhile.

    I recommend you change your phone number. It’d be a lot faster and more effective than trying to beg debtors to take harassing phone calls for the debt they’re trying to avoid.

    At least until the collectors start coming to your door, but they usually get the picture faster.

  42. VikingP77 says:

    This same thing has been happening to me for over a year now. Some jerk who had my cell phone number before me owes a lot of money! Of COURSE he doesn’t have the # anymore. I keep telling them I am a woman not a man my name is not Tony. They say they take it out of the system and then they still keep calling. At least some of the comments above gave me some fun ideas for dealing with them now hahaha……

  43. SuffolkHouse says:

    When people call me, I start asking them vulgar things. Sometimes I go along with what they’re saying, and then begin to talk about how I just shoved a chocolate bar up my ass. Usually, they don’t know what to do.

    Sometimes I act like I have limited mental faculties and agree with everything they say, and then ask them a couple minutes in if they have lots of little windows.

    Sometimes I act like I know them, and believe that they just left the house without saying bye bye to Sally.

    You name it. Every call is an opportunity to be coarse and creative. Every hang-up or angry expression is a lost opportunity for humor in front of your very best audience – YOU!

    You are so lucky. At one point I put myself on do not call lists and no-mail lists. My fun quotient has dropped. I’ve resorted to watching re-runs of Arrested Development on HULU.

  44. MissPeacock says:

    @EyeHeartPie: My apartment made me sign a form stating I would only get cable and internet via Charter as a condition of renting there. (In other words, no satellite service, because Charter was the only place that provided cable anyhow). And then just last month they turned off Charter for the entire complex without any input from residents and forced everyone to go with something called Suite Solutions. I’m moving anyhow in two weeks, but I’ve often wondered how legal all of that was.

    I wish the OP the best of luck on getting her situation resolved. As others have mentioned, if you’ve only had the number for two months, it should be easy to get another number….but for principle, I’d rather sic it to the debt collectors via a lawsuit. :)

  45. desertdust says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: And then lysol the phone. !!1111!!!!1111 A noise maker or whistle may be a better solution.

  46. EyeHeartPie says:

    @MissPeacock: Ah. Forgot that this is a law in Texas (where I live), but not necessarily a law everywhere else. However, there might be an FCC rule against apartment complexes restricting residents’ access to phone/internet/TV providers. Even if it is in your contract, it may not be enforceable. Lemme do some checking and see what I turn up. You may have been completely screwed.

  47. robocop is bleeding says:

    My new phone number has been the target of constant calls and messages from a force more powerful that debt collectors or phone solicitors: a sad and lonely grandma.

    SLG leaves two messages a day on my voicemail. I think she had some agreement with whatever relative (Sally?) used to have my number where she wouldn’t call, only send voicemail. I tried calling her back to say she had the wrong number, but she didn’t seem to understand.

    I blocked her number yesterday. I wonder if that will have an impact on the next family reunion?

  48. Amiga_500 says:

    I’ve been in the same situation. Buy some ear plugs and a fog horn. I’ve yet to have a harassing collection agent call back, and yes, i gave them 3 warnings…

  49. Bonnet says:

    Ugh. I am going through this. I get all sorts of messages for Michelle D. Jenkins, she owes people money, does not return her rentals to Blockbuster on time, and gets collect calls from prison. Some guy doing time is wondering why his baby would not accept the charges.

  50. EyeHeartPie says:

    href=”#c7001836″>MissPeacock: Found a story on CNET about this, and apparently it’s an FCC rule now. No apartment complex or property manager can sign an exclusive contract with a service provider, at least for TV cable. That probably means that if your apartment is still doing this to new residents, then you could report them to the FCC. You should do this even if you are moving so as to protect the future residents from illegal practices.

    [news.cnet.com]

  51. clickable says:

    Rachael, I feel for you. I had a similar situation with my cellphone – constant calls from an automated system (not even a human!) looking for the guy who had the number in the past. I was going nuts.

    I chose the easiest (IMO) route, changing the number. It took less than three minutes. I understand that if you have given the number out to everyone you know, that may not be the easiest for you. I’m afraid that doing it the “right” way, i.e., routing out the harassers and forcing them to stop calling, will take a long time and probably won’t work, since that number is already on call lists.

    We are still getting calls asking for my father two years after his passing, because we once gave a correct phone number when ordering some health aid items for him. At least now I know to slam the phone down, because certainly anyone who personally knew my father and had reason to call would know very well that he passed away. They come about three times a week and I’m resigned to the notion that they will never stop. Thankfully, most of the time I’m not home at those hours.

  52. nicemarmot617 says:

    Much as I would love a lawsuit or phone-taunting resolution to this, it’s possible that the deadbeat is still giving out that phone number as his own. I know someone that happened to. The guy hadn’t had the number in years, but whenever anyone asked him for his phone number, he gave out the old one. Just change your number, it’s really the only answer. Unfortunate but everybody has to deal with the deadbeat losers of this world.

  53. EyeHeartPie says:

    @EyeHeartPie: Crap, meant to point to this post:
    @MissPeacock:

  54. SinisterMatt says:

    Dave Ramsey has an amusing approach to this. It basically involves threatening them that you will blast an airhorn into the phone next time they call. More than that, he advocates sending them a strongly worded cease and desist letter. I don’t know if the letter or the airhorn works more, but since the OP has already sent them a letter, I would imagine that now would be the time to talk to a lawyer and/or the FCC.

    Cheers!

  55. dragonvpm says:

    So, if the OP isn’t quite feeling like following all the good advice for hitting the debt collector’s where it hurts (i.e. the wallet) or changing the number, why not just unplug the phone?

    She has a cell phone and uses skype so it seems like the landline is largely just there to provide DSL, why not unplug the phone or set the ringer to silent? They can call all they want but so long as it’s not bothering her, who cares? (I fully realize some folks might want to fight them on general principle, but I’m asking from the pragmatic “I don’t want to waste my time” side of things)

    I got rid of my landline about 5 years when I made a similar realization. I talked on my cell phone way more than I did on the landline and of those calls, 99% were telemarketers or debt collectors for other people. I unplugged the phone about a month before I ditched it and I didn’t see any negatives to that course of action so I ditched the line. Now, years later and I haven’t had a single problem without a landline.

    I’m not sure how well this plan works for 911 service (I have had to call 911 a couple of times and I still got fast response times), but if that was a concern (e.g. with kids) then a landline with a phone plugged in and the ringer on silent would be a simple enough solution.

  56. Shaftoe says:

    @IamNotToddDavis:
    I took a moment and read through the Debt Verification letter he posted. Truth be told that is really well written and using Cert Mail with receipt establishes a legal trail. Probably the best route to take. Though there were some amusing ones posted.

    Wish I had it back when I suffered from the same sort of issue. some guy Bought 30K worth of Dell servers and never paid them. Kept getting calls but the finally stopped. After the first one I found an address for the guy on google in about 15 seconds. Next time they called I gave em the address and told them they should do due diligence. I was nice to start since it was not their fault the first time. but afterthat I got nasty.

  57. cortana says:

    @kewlfocus: Shouldn’t complain. I have Cincinnati Bell DSL like was mentioned. 5mbit down/ 1 mbit up and rock solid. Plus there’s no dealing with comcast or time warner.

  58. kc2idf says:

    It sounds like you don’t actually care about the phone, just the DSL. So unplug the phone and they won’t bother you any more.

  59. Nick1693 says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: I heard success from debt collectors by trying to annoy them. I esp. like when you keep saying yes.

  60. snoop-blog says:

    I’m never lucky enough for this to happen to me.

  61. Caveat says:

    I used to get a lot of calls because the phone company assigned me a phone number that was previously used by someone with credit problems. Many times I told the collectors that they had the wrong number but they kept calling. Finally because they were so sure that I was who I said I wasn’t I accepted their position and just went along. I just listened to their demands, and told them that I was not going to pay. That got them REALLY angry. I listened to their threats about taking me to court and silently laughed while telling them that I knew the law and I would file bankruptcy and they would get nothing from their unsecured debt. Not only that, but I led them to believe I was continuing to spend money like crazy. When I was in Las Vegas I called them using a pay phone, and I did the same from Hawaii. I would call them then tell them that I was too busy with my vacation to spend time on my debts and besides I spent too much on the vacation and gambling. Even though my alleged name was Johnson I used an accent and got cursed by one of their supervisors for being a damned foreigner. I guess they got so irate that they started investigating in depth and must have figured out that they wasted tons of time and money barking up the wrong tree. The calls finally stopped.

  62. Nick1693 says:

    @donopolis: Just like RadioShack?

  63. Nick1693 says:

    @Amiga_500: Warnings, or blasts of the horn?

  64. dragonvpm says:

    Heh, actually, thinking about the earlier post that delved into the recording conversations issue, I wonder what would happen if you set your phone to play a stock recording:

    “Hi, please note that this call is being recorded for use in civil and possibly criminal proceedings. Any caller who violates the FCRA or any other state or federal statute or engages in harassment will have their information and a recording of this call forwarded to the appropriate authorities and my lawyer. Please indicate your acceptance by stating your full name and the company you are representing so that the call will be connected. Thank you and have a nice day.”

    Even if someone gave a bogus name/company that would be just more evidence and it should make it easier to get the PD to help initiate harassment proceedings and I suspect a company caught making harassing calls and lying about who they are would be open for some huge losses in court.

  65. smonkey says:

    I went on a 2 week vacation one time. When I got back, my anwsering machine was full of messages from some collection agency asking about my truck and warning about what would happen if I didn’t call/pay them. The last message on the tape was “you car has been towed and impounded for failure to….”

    I did feel really bad for whoever this happened to. But the misanthropic part of me did laugh.

  66. dragonvpm says:

    @Caveat: FTW, I’m going to file that one away for future use :-D.

  67. I had a lot of fun with some collections agents when they started trying to harass me about some loser who used to have my number….

    [blog.megacity.org]

    It was quite fun, and eventually stopped.

  68. Red_Eye says:

    Drive Time does this to me for my neighbor. [www.patentlystupid.com] they call wanting to know if my neighbor is such and such and if he is still there and if we would go next door for them and tell them to call, trying to embarrass them into calling. Their last call was on 5/22 and the next time they call I will be geeting really ugly.

  69. I don’t even understand how you are on the phone long enough for them to curse at you or anything. I used to get these calls for the former owners of my house, and my reply was a very curt “sorry-he-doesn’t-live-here-anymore-please-don’t-call-here-anymore-kthxbai” and then they would hear the dial-tone. Don’t let them get a word in edgewise. Or just make like Gwen Stefani and screen your phone calls.

  70. @Shaftoe: I’ve used that letter before and it works like a charm. The thing about it is that a lot of these idiot collectors are well aware of the laws they are breaking by harrassing you, but they gamble (correctly in most cases) that the majority of the people they are calling don’t know their rights under the law so they do it anyways.

    Sometimes they lose, but most times they get away with it. The bigger problem is the fact that the FDCPA doesn’t do a very good job of establishing just what can pass for validation, which is why it’s important to invoke the FCRA as well.

  71. FangDoc says:

    We moved into our house 2 1/2 years ago, and we still occasionally get calls for Adrian Tucker (no one we know.) However, they’re always recordings. Every now and again I get to actually answer one of these, and it gives a series of choices: “If you are this person, press 1. If this person is present, and you need this call to hold, press 2. If this person is not home right now, press 3.” And so on.

    Problem is, there IS NOT an option for “If you wouldn’t know this deadbeat from Adam, and want these annoying phone calls to stop, press 14.” And since there’s no actual person to talk to, there’s no recourse. I just hang up now. The calls have been far less frequent recently.

    Now we get calls reminding Isabel of her appointments at Memorial Hospital. I call them, tell them they have the wrong number, they thank me, and a few weeks later we get another one. Oh well.

  72. timmus says:

    Your only options are:

    1. Certified return receipt letter to the telemarketer doing the calling.

    2. A phone company with REAL blocking options (I can tell you from experience this does not include AT&T or former Southwestern Bell, but does include Embarq).

    3. Change your number. That’s by far the most effective method and once you make all the notifications it’s a done deal.

    I’ve never found anything that works outside those 3 options, though for new telemarketing going to my own name, it also helps to get a disposable number (e.g. GrandCentral) forwarded to my home number and give THAT out to businesses, not my actual home number.

  73. Warden’s Office, Valley View State Prison, Captain Jenkins speaking, we currently have 8 slots avaialable, how can I help you?

  74. D-Train says:

    @kewlfocus: Not in the slightest. Its completely reasonable for the property manager to not want the local cable service cocking up the building with their despicable cable installations, whereas the phone copper is likely already there and solid. Upstate NY Time Warner installs are an absolute joke. They just knock holes in anything, string lines the shortest distance ignoring aesthetics, and frequently don’t even install a wall plate.

  75. Amiga_500 says:

    @Nick1693: Oops! Three verbal warnings, then 1 blast!

  76. FLConsumer says:

    I’m all for having fun with the collectors — they called you, they invited themselves into your home without an invitation, so vent away on/at them. I used to do this with salesholes prior to the do-not-call list. One time a ‘hole got offended at what I was yelling about. “too bad. you called me, I didn’t call you. You can alaways hang up.”

    In some ways I miss my nightly vent sessions.

  77. mzs says:

    This is an awful position to be in. We moved and started getting phone calls for a Mr. Martinez from debt collectors. I’m Polish, my wife is too, we have Polish accents, we have a very Polish last name, whatever these scum don’t seem to care. This was annoying but then we started getting calls late at night that would simply breathe heavily and then hang-up. So we got the police involved. What you need to do is call the operator and ask for the last phone call made to you be traced. The 911 operator explained what to do. Then the police get a record of that from the phone company and investigate. So a few days later a polic officer showed-up and took down some info from us. Then we received a phone call from him later explaining it was a bad debt collector and that I should not expect any more phone calls. We never even connected the dots ourselves.

    Unfortunately later we moved and got a new phone number. The first sign of trouble was when we wanted a pizza delivered and they simply would not deliver to a Mr. Rodriguez. We had many debt collector phone calls, but after a while they died down and no one was so obnoxious this time around.

  78. Dr. Eirik says:

    I had a similar but bizarre problem with I moved to Boston back in 1996. Once the new phone book was printed I started getting debt collection calls for a person with exactly the same first and last name and same middle initial. I got calls from places I never shopped at, much less had credit with. It culminated with a person showing up at my apartment door who was built like a marriage between a bar bouncer and a Boston cop. Thank God he apparently knew exactly who he was looking for, because he took one look at me and took off.

    I would get periodic calls and mailings for this guy about his debt for years, even once I moved to Quincy. The strangest was a 5am call from Montgomery Wards asking if I wouldn’t mind paying the $500 I owed. I explained that I wasn’t the same person, and asked why they were calling so early. She apologized and said that she didn’t realize the time difference because she was in Chicago. I’d hung up before I realized that meant it was 3am where she was.

    Most recently, I got another call that might have been for the same guy, again at some ungodly early hour (I think about 5am, though now I live on the west coast). They were looking for someone with the same name again who had skipped out on payments for a 2003 Tahoe. I screamed at the person who called (we had an infant and a toddler at the time, and I’d only had about 2 hours of sleep). Then I got the name of the company and called them back and screamed at a supervisor that if I ever got a call from them again, especially at 5am, I was going to call Attorney Generals office and report them. So far, no new calls.

    More on topic, shortly after moving to Seattle, I ended up with a second ringer line as part of a package of services with Verizon. I didn’t care about it and didn’t even know the number, but after about a week I realized that someone had previously had the number, named “Bunny”, who was in deep debt. I was able to get that number changed, thankfully, without effecting anything else.

  79. nix-elixir says:

    I had Nationwide Insurance calling me on my cell number for someone that had previously lived at my address. We always get mail for this person so I expect that but then they started leaving me voicemail messages. I called them and got a lady who didn’t seem interested in my problem, said she would “research it”. She didn’t seem like she wrote anything down or looked anything up at all and was anxious to get off the phone immediately, even going so far as to thank me before I was finished and wait for me to hang up. Luckily I’ve read the Consumerist a few times. I made her give me a customer service line to call and when I spoke with this next lady, she was very helpful but very clueless as to why they would be calling me. She also said she would “research it”! but she made it sound like they would still call until they found a correct number for this person. I let them know that this would not be happening again. So far it’s stopped.

  80. woohhaa says:

    Try to get them to agree to come meet you in person to give them the money then douse them with a bucket of pig blood.

  81. Breach says:

    Stuff like this makes me think most Debt collectors should not be classified as human

  82. Loki_Monster says:

    @LorneReams: WRONG. Just wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  83. Loki_Monster says:

    @IamNotToddDavis: That letter is meaningless and not supported by any law. You can love it all you like, but it doesn’t entitle anyone who sends it to more than the law allows.

  84. Ubermunch says:

    Here’s the script to ditch the humans at least:

    OP [with monotone/serious drawl]: “Forward assault – Sgt. Jenkins speaking – this is an unsecured line – go ahead”

    SCUMBAG: “I’m looking for Mr. X or Ms. X”

    OP “This is Forward assault – do you have official business on this line?”

    SCUMBAG: Uh.

    OP: “This is an assigned number and for official business only. You have the wrong number.” [hang up]

    Then just continue to answer the phone with: “Forward assault – Sgt. Jenkins speaking – this is an unsecured line – go ahead” and hang up as soon as the first word comes out of their mouth. Never say another word, just hang up.

    After I got my “new” cell number 3/4′s of all of my donation grubbers, harassing calls, dried up for me on my cell phone in a few days by using this tactic. I just had to be consistent. Of course, I worked with the Army for years and know the vocal tone perfectly. When you answer the phone like that for a few years (without the Sgt. part personally) you can do it in your sleep. Nowadays I actually look forward to the donation weasels and car warranty folks that I can see on caller ID. Sgt. Jenkins to the rescue – a Real American Hero!!!

  85. The_IT_Crone says:

    @Bonnet: So I’m NOT the only one who gets collect calls from prison! I feel sort of better now. It’s only on weekends. Stillwater prison in MN, I believe.

    What’s really getting me is the automated debt calls at 8am on weekends. That just makes me stabby.

  86. MissPeacock says:

    @EyeHeartPie: Really? That is too awesome for words, especially since the reason I’m moving out (breaking a lease and everything) is because the apartment complex is so incompetent and unresponsive. I’ll take any chance I have to treat them like they’ve treated us. I’ll look into that complaint. THANKS!!!!!!!!!

  87. Bobg says:

    I have had my present phone number for seven years and I am still getting calls from collectors for the person that previously had my number and, surprisingly, from a church group trying to get these people to come back to church. Although I have repeatedly told the callers that the person no longer has this number the calls continue.

  88. mythago says:

    on recording calls, whether you live in a “one-party” or “two-party” information state, as long as you INFORM THE OTHER PARTY at the beginning of the call that you are recording, it is legal.

  89. failurate says:

    @desertdust: You don’t want to get pink eye!

  90. Perverts-R-US phone sex line, what is your fetish?

  91. Teh1337Pirat3 says:

    If you use skype for your phone anyway then just unplug the other phone from your main line and ignore them.

  92. @Loki_Monster: Um, hello? It most certainly is supported by specific laws. If a collector calls you to harrass you in to paying on a debt AFTER you have confirmed receipt of your request for validation, and the collector has NOT responded with written validation of the debt, he is in VIOLATION of the FDCPA. People can and do sue collection companies for violations of the FDCPA all the time.

    Same goes for the FCRA, which is also referenced in the letter.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.

  93. wagnerism says:

    I got calls for a person with the same first initial and same last name. They were infrequent, but lasted for years. Finally I got their information and contacted the FTC, BBB and Atty General. It stopped

  94. bwcbwc says:

    @Breach: OTOH, I feel the same way about deadbeats.

  95. free101 says:

    I used to work for a college agency. Most collection agencies have a Do Not Call database they can add your number to. This will also block your number from being dialed directly from their phone system. I would get the name of the agency calling you, and their customer service or legal dept number. You can either call them or write them (I would do both, since calling will speed the process, and writing to them will give you both parties a physical copy) and have them add you to the Do Not Call database. This has a 24 hour time around time. The actual collectors do not have access to this database and they don’t have permission to block your number on the phone switch.

    The collection agency I worked for always fulfilled any requests for blocking number, especially if the people we called were non-debtors. We called this “third party non-debtor”.

    If all else fails, get an attorney involved. The collection agency’s legal department will certainly work with you.

  96. Imaginary_Friend says:

    In this situation, I would contact the phone company directly and ask that a trap be placed on the line because you’ve been receiving harassing phone calls. The phone company will give you a case number and you can then convey that information to the police.

    Once the trap is placed on the line, you’ll be asked to keep notes on the dates, times, and person or company who is harassing you. Even if it’s a hang up call, write it down. You’ll need to contact the phone company after each occurrence. Once they have confirmed that at least three calls originated from the same number, the phone company will pass this info on to the police and it’s a cakewalk from there.

    The phone company will contact the harasser on your behalf. The calls will stop. In the unlikely event that they don’t, you’ll be able to use the evidence gathered against the offending company or person with the police in or court.

    This happened to a neighbor of mine a few years ago. It turned out one of the psycho Stepford wives in the neighborhood was the one making harassing, 2am hang-up calls to her. The cops rolled up in a squad car in broad daylight and hauled her crying ass to jail! It was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen.
    Good luck.

  97. 108Reliant says:

    When told that you had to change phone services just to move in, I would have personally checked with the local phone company and Time Warner. Then I would have looked to see in the rental contract to see if that is written in there. Landlords know that not all people look at the full contract. If that was in there, I would have brokered a deal with him or have gone somewhere else.

  98. galatae says:

    I went through this before and would do three things:

    1) Ask what company they are with and their name
    2) Tell them that you aren’t the party that they are looking for, to change their records, and that you will report them to the state AG if they call again.
    3) Record all information and if the same company calls back, report them to your state AG.

    Calls stopped after about a month.

  99. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:

    Agree to pay the bill, but only if they fax you a settlement offer. Ask for their fax number to return the form to.

    Now, go buy a fax machine and 100 sheets of black construction paper. Everytime they call you, fax them 100 sheets of black construction paper. This will cost at least $200 per instance (thats a dead toner and a dead drum) lather, rinse, repeat.

  100. Trencher93 says:

    The short answer is: no! I had a debt collector start calling me last year. I have never even had a late payment, so I guess they were just trolling. They left non-stop messages on my answering machine, at least twice a day, for a while. They would leave messages about me getting a lawyer and so on. They said a name, but it was always slurred, both computer-read and when a person read it, so I could not understand what they were saying. I had not been in debt, so I did some research, and there is a vast underworld of scum in boiler rooms calling anyone and everyone. They won’t stop calling. The best you can do it wait it out — they’ll go on to someone else in a few months. Whatever you do, DO NOT LET THEM KNOW YOU EXIST. They are required by law to put something in writing if it is for you. But there’s almost no chance of getting them to stop calling you. There are many discussion boards on the net about this subject. Look up the phone number they’re using to call you and you’ll find them. I now spend about $100/yr on caller ID just to screen this junk.

  101. mstarot says:

    Best bet is the cease and desist letter sent CMRR. When the jerks call again get their company name and address -if they don’t give it to you that’s another violation!

    If they continue to call, get a consumer lawyer-they’ll put them down pretty quick.

    When I had my pug and got these calls I’d put “Lucy” on the line and she’d just snort and snore at them. Cheap giggles for me at least.

  102. Stanwell says:

    Just cite the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act at them. Likely as not you don’t need to know anything about the terms of the FDCPA, because they probably won’t either. “I have advised you that the party you are trying to reach is not available at this number. Any further attempts to reach that person at this number will be in violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act for which your company, and you personally, may be held responsible after i complain to the FCC.” Worked for me.

    Of course i give the lie to that by admitting that i work in collections (1st party mortgage collections for a reputable company)and know the Act moderately well.

  103. JoshReflek says:

    1. Demand to speak with a supervisor.
    2. Then, demand to speak with THEIR supervisor, dont take no for an answer.
    3. Ask for their employee name and personal employee number as well as corporate mailing address.
    4. Tell them “You are contacting the wrong party, I am on the national ‘Do Not Call list’ and it is illegal for you to harass me further, cease your attempts to use this information for your purposes or I will take you to small claims court for harassment”, then hang up.
    5. When they call again inform them you will be taking them to small claims court.
    6. Actually take them to small claims court. Depending on your state, you can sue for about $500 for each time they continue to harass you.
    7. Win a default judgement, because they wont show up in court.

    As soon as you cost them money, they will not only stop calling you, you will cause them to think twice before doing it to other people.

    GL, HF

  104. freqhz says:

    welcome to the club where people who call you do the
    “Master Computer Program’s” bidding regardless of the situation.
    ….hint…. the computer is the smartest creature in the building. just try to reason with them…

  105. chumleyex says:

    take down their number and then call them back later asking for another company, when they say thats not them just ask them to leave a message for you.

  106. VanDammer says:

    We moved & had our new # for over a year. A single debt collector started calling trying to find the deadbeat that previously had our #. I repeatedly told the collector of the change but he refused to believe & accused me of lying.

    His calls became belligerent & expletive laden when I refused to give him my SSN, DoB, or DL # order for him to believe I wasn’t his debtor. I did get his name, the company name & address, and even spoke w/ his manager but they refused to believe.

    I had them verify the phone # reassignment w/ Qwest (and demanded that Qwest not divulge my personal info) and yet they still called.

    I contacted my state AG and their state AG and Consumer hotlines to file complaints. Via searches, I found numerous complaints and some legal judgements against this company but they still called.

    Armed w/ the name of my nemesis (which he provided earler) and the address of their office, I googled until I found the guy’s home phone #. One call to his wife w/ a civil but curt message resulted in an apology call from a manager and a complete cease in all calls.

    The whole battled played out over two months, but I finally slapped them shut.