I Told Off The Debt Collector

Some punkass debt collector called trying to get a hold of some lady he thinks my girlfriend knows. Here’s roughly how the conversation went. Keep in mind I had just put a bunch of peanuts in my mouth…

DANNY: Hi this is Danny, is this [your girlfriend]
BEN: No it’s not.
DANNY: Can I speak to [your girlfriend]?
BEN: What company are you representing?
GIRLFRIEND: (in background) I’m not here!
DANNY: (low chuckle) What, are you her husband?
BEN: No. What is this about?
DANNY: This is Danny. I’m calling long distance, from Denver, from blahblahBank. I’m trying to reach [your girlfriend]. She was listed as an associate of Jane Terry (name changed), who I’m trying to get in touch with regarding an important matter.
BEN: There’s no [my girlfriend] Terry here.
DANNY: I didn’t say [your girlfriend] Terry, sir, I said Jane Terry. I’m trying to get a hold of [your girlfriend], she’s over there at uh at [this address]?
BEN: She’s not here—
DANNY: —What’s your problem, pal? Are you having a bad day?
BEN: I’m having a great day—
DANNY: —Tries to talk over me—
BEN: —And it’s about to get a whole lot better because I’m going to stop wasting it on mother******* like you. Don’t call here again.

Hung up. Phone rang immediately. Muted.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices act, debt collectors are allowed to contact third parties but only to find out your address, phone number, and where you work. This guy didn’t break any rules, there’s no law against having being condescending and arrogant.

(Photo (no that’s not me): Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Fry says:

    Hahaha! Great stuff Ben!!!

  2. Synth3t1c says:

    “This guy didn’t break any rules, there’s _now_ law against having being condescending and arrogant.”

    Spelling, much?

    Good stuff though :P

  3. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Oh, heck, you could have had soooooo much more fun with that.
    “Danny? She’s been looking for you. Something about a paternity suit.”

    “Let me know when you find her. She owes me a lot of money.”

    or think Andrew Dice Clay…
    “Yeah, but she can’t talk right now.” etc. etc.

    • shorty63136 says:

      @doctor_cos: HAHAHA! Paternity suit! That woulda been AWESOME!!

    • SacraBos says:

      @doctor_cos: I thought that was Danny Devito in “Ruthless People”…

    • Pious_Augustus says:


      Then they keep calling you, best thing to tell a debt collector that if the person doesn’t live there, they don’t live there. Cause obviously cannot collect on someone that they are calling a bad number. Time is money, and once you tell them it’s a wrong number that person’s file will be sent to a skip tracer and it’s their job to hunt that person down for collection

      • "I Like Potatoes" says:

        I wish it worked that well – I have been getting collection calls for someone who used to have my phone number since I got the number. It’s been almost a year now and I’m still getting calls for Kimberly. Someone, please please, tell me how to make it STOP!!!

  4. crazypants says:

    You sure showed him a thing or three, clearly the jerky boys have nothing on you!@#$^%^

    On a more serious note: Does this really need it’s very own post on the Consumerist? I know you’re undergoing staff cutbacks, but I don’t need to be updated every time a telemarketer calls you.

    • WasabiJoe says:

      Then why are you on the consumerist? It’s little everyday things consumers face that are the backbone of a site like this.

      Alternatively, you could have chosen not to read this post in the first place and skipped over to the articles that actually do interest you.

    • Fry says:

      @crazypants: Too bad they aren’t doing commenter cutbacks too…

      Seriously dude, if you actually read the post, there is a hidden lesson in there. Somethign that some readers may not know. Plus, Ben is clearly demonstrating that he practices what he preaches.

    • m4ximusprim3 says:

      @crazypants: I found it amusing, with a little gem of knowledge at the end. If you don’t like it, don’t click through and comment.

      I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have 10 posts and read 6 than 3 posts and read 3.

  5. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I’m not sure how, exactly; but the peanuts in the mouth make it more wonderful somehow.

  6. Landru says:

    I usually whisper, “I’m sorry, they’re no longer with us.” Then I cry a little bit as I hang up on them.

    • katiat325 says:

      Frankly, if someone says they’re not there, then just leave it at that, not go ahead and be a smart-butt and ask what my problem is. But yeah, definately love that idea of faking their deaths, awesome thought @Landru: .

      • Grive says:

        @katiat325: The awesomer part is just implying it. I’ve actually used it.

        Something along the lines of “he’s not with us anymore. He was too stressed about this debt and decided to jump off a cliff”, with a sad and bitter tone.

        Funny thing, it wasn’t actually a lie. He went on a local nature/extreme sports event, which involves jumping off a cliff into a underground lake below, to take his mind off some financial troubles he had. I was sad and bitter because I wanted to go :)

    • Pious_Augustus says:


      They will do a check and often times if you threaten death this will be passed onto the original creditor for a check or further action. I used to miss being able to sue people who claimed they were dead only to find out otherwise.

    • Zorantor says:

      @Landru: I once responded with “I’m sorry, he’s in jail. Is there something I can do for you?”

      Never used it again, though, because as soon as I hung up it hit me that that was probably illegal.

  7. MyPetFly says:

    Ohhh!!! PeaNUTS in your mouth. Sorry, I misunderstood… ;)

    (No offense meant by that.)

  8. SuperiorInky says:

    Hahaha! Well, that’s one way to handle debt collectors.

    The other way involves a lot of work: You must learn the language of the debt collectors, gain their trust, and breed with their women. And in time, your differences will be forgotten. :)

  9. SabreDC says:

    “…I’m going to stop wasting it on mother******* like you.”

    “This guy didn’t break any rules, there’s now law against having being condescending and arrogant.”

    Yes, because calling someone else a motherfucker is respectful and polite. I understand that he called you, yada yada yada, but you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. A simple “I am under no obligation to submit to your interrogation. Have a nice day. *hang up*” would have worked just as well.

  10. howie_in_az says:

    Aren’t debt collectors only allowed to call once per day?

    • attackgypsy says:

      @howie_in_az: Once a day?

      What are you on? I have one that calls 8-10 times a day. I don’t even pick up the phone anymore.

      • Zorantor says:

        @attackgypsy: That’s when you answer in a fake voice and tell them they have the wrong number, and to stop calling you.

        • SchuylerH says:

          Yeah, that worked really well for the two times when a debt collector kept calling my number, asking for someone I’d never heard of. In one case, the collector got pissed when I tried to find out who was calling and tried to explain that said person wasn’t at my number; in the other case, I was outright accused of lying when I said I didn’t know the person they were calling for.

          I doubt even the most honorable debt collector (relatively speaking) takes “You’ve got the wrong number” at face value. Unfortunately, that means they’ll keep calling even when they do have the wrong number.

    • Pious_Augustus says:


      Depends. If it’s a consumer debt yeah some states you can only call once per day depending on the state or if someone gives you permission to call back later. If it’s a debt on a business account I can tell anyone and everyone you’re a dead beat debtor who doesn’t pay their bills and if they can’t pay their bills on time make sure that your own check doesn’t bounce

  11. kamel5547 says:

    There may be no law regarding debt collection practices, but if this was a cell phone (from the “Phone rings immediately. Muted.” I assume it was) other laws *may* have been broken.

    Specifically the number must be hand dialed and not dialed by a computer. I doubt they are hand-dialing and thus are likely violating the alw by using an automated dialer to rach a cell phone? Unless an exemption has been created in the past year and a half?

    Quite frankly I don’t like the idea that debt collectors can call other people, I have no interest in helping them out, and I doubt many other people do.

    • samurailynn says:

      @kamel5547: It doesn’t sound to me like an auto-dialer. It would usually take some time to throw the number back in the queue and call again if it was an auto-dialer. Sounds like hand dialing to me.

  12. Ike_Skelton says:

    Some debt collector kept calling my brother when he got a new phone number a few years ago, looking for the person who apparently had that number before my brother. He didn’t believe my brother when he told the collector he just got that number and the person he was looking for wasn’t at that number. Anyway, this guy kept calling and kept calling and was abusive towards my brother, so finally my dad answered the phone and totally owned this guy. He got the company the guy was with, the guys name, and some other info and threatened to call the attorney general or some regulatory agency or something if the guy ever called again. The guy never called again. My dad would have gotten that motherfucker fired too.

    • scoosdad says:

      @Ike_Skelton: Ditto, earlier this year I kept getting calls from debt collectors looking for the people who had my number 9 years ago. I finally told the guy to go look them up at Zabasearch, and he stopped calling me.

    • lizk says:

      @Ike_Skelton: I had the same thing happen when I got a new phone number. I think I told at least 10 debt collection agencies that Hazel didn’t have this number, and they’d all do the “oh reeeeally? so, Hazel, I have this issue I need to talk to you about…” as if I was going to magically admit I was Hazel.

      When I asked for company information and names, they refused to give the information and hung up on me. Finally one of them was stupid enough to call on a line that had caller ID (the other calls came through as “Private Number” or “000-000-0000”), and I was able to submit a complaint–and then it stopped. I’m never changing my number again.

    • CherriSpryte says:

      @Ike_Skelton: Same thing happened to me when i first got my first cellphone – Capital One called once a day for a good two months before I could convince someone high enough up the ladder that “Victor” had gotten a new phone number, and they should stop calling me.

  13. ninjatoddler says:

    Apart from the obvious typo in the last para, I think it might be better if you told the debt collector you were an officer and you would report him if he makes prank calls again.

  14. Meathamper says:

    You should have just pissed him off and said you knew some Mafia dude or whatever.

  15. Heresy Of Truth says:

    I used to get calls like that for a roommate that had moved out. It had been five years, and they just wouldn’t believe she had ditched us, too. (Bad roommate, ditched out on rent, etc.)

    Our solution was to let my new roommate have the phone. He would ask what color panties they were wearing, if they were men, or go on about his horrible STD if it was a woman.

    We never got repeat calls after that.

  16. seamer says:

    Should have used your mad skillz and redirected him here where he could read how the ways debt collectors work are constantly exposed as…shall we say, illegal?

  17. SnakesSolids says:

    I usually just scream into the phone, “HEELLOO? WHHAAATT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOUUUU!”

    If they don’t hang up after that, I keep screaming into the phone that I can’t hear them and they catch the hint. Or if I have a fart brewing, I’ll drop that into the handset for ’em.

  18. I just love debt collectors.

    Lie, cheat and steal to acquire a payment.

    Hey, nothing wrong with debt collectors (everybody should pay their bills and if they don’t then I am all for some cement booties so as to collect on the insurance policy), but this crap of drawing in various outsiders to reach the debtor is pretty darn bogus.

    Years ago, as a teenager, I received a call at home from somebody trying to reach a neighbor several houses down the street. By now everybody knows the speil….. “I have been trying to reach my {fill-in-the-blank} for {fill-in-the-blank} time and can not reach them. Maybe something is wrong. Could you be kind enough to write a note and take it to them…. make sure you hand it to them in person because I want to make sure they are ok. If they don’t answer the door, could you call the police to come and check on them? Tell Fill-in-the-blank he/she can reach me at my home, or better yet, them them to reach me at work and my number is 1-800-debtcollector”

    Hey, I was young and stupid. I just wasn’t that stupid.

  19. headhot says:

    This happened to me when I got a new number. I just give them this number for the person they are looking for:
    (202) 326-2222

    Its the main number to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Calls stopped after that.

  20. quail says:

    My experience of debt collectors when they call third parties is that they don’t identify themselves. They make up some half legit/half lie and play on the third party’s charity or good will. They remind me of a used car salesman trying to make a sale.

    • Pious_Augustus says:

      @quail: @quail:

      This is because by Federal law also known as the FDCPA they cannot identify themselves as debt collectors because then that gives away that the person they are looking for is in fact a dead beat debtor who is worthless and cannot pay his or own bills.

      • donopolis says:


        This is twice in a row that you have accused people that you don’t know of being a deadbeat and worthless.

        Oh, sorry don’t want to mis-quote, thte first one you said was lower than scum.

        That seems a little harsh to my ears. There are plenty of people who get into bad debt that are not deadbeats and are trying there best to get along. not everyone is hiding out…


        • Pious_Augustus says:


          In the Collection world your a debtor which is lower then human less then scum who will lie and give every excuse why they cannot pay their bills. Some will still be making money or want to buy that nice new item but refuse to pay the debt owed.

          It’s harsh? Because what a person cannot pay back something he or she bought and refuses to give the money back? Thats harsh and Debt Collectors are not Customer Service. They do not have to be nice, they have to be straight to the point.

          Yes, sometimes good things happen to bad people but those people are willing to work with the Debt Collector to pay off this debt.

          Having a debt collector call your house is actually not the worst thing in the world because you and him can make arrangements to change the debt or lower it.

          And yes if you don’t pay your bills and then whine about these people calling you, your a dead beat

          • Green Goth Brit Chick - AlternatEve says:

            @Pious_Augustus: Actually having got into debt and worked out a repayment system through a legitimate third party, the collectors CAN and WILL still call you. Then they call you a liar when you say that a) you have been making repayments and b) it is in the repayment agreement that these calls will stop.

            I got to the point where I was faxing copies of the repayment agreement THEY had agreed to to them, even though they already HAD a copy.

            So don’t say agreeing and working with them to resolve it stops the calls, because it doesn’t. They see their profit margin drop and want to harass you into breaking the agreement.

      • angryhippo says:


        I genuinely hope that you never have the bad luck of losing your job or racking up some sort of medical debt or some other unforseen circumstances that you seem so cavalier about passing judgement. Karma may have other ideas though…

        • Pious_Augustus says:


          Medical Debt, I understand it can happen to anyone.

          Student Loans, I cannot understand since you shouldn’t of listened to everyone telling you go to college your going to get a nice full time job with benefits after, no its not happening

      • shor0814 says:

        @Pious_Augustus: Or the person they are looking for does not actually owe the debt because they paid it off, never incurred the debt in the first place, or were a victim of mistaken identity.

        Stop assuming.

  21. dakotad555 says:

    I once had a bill collector call me and ask me to walk down a couple apartments and leave a note for my neighbor. I said I would, set the phone down for about 5 minutes, and then came back on to say that I forgot which apartment it was, set the phone down another 5 minutes and came back and asked what the person’s name was again… I kept that bastard on the phone for 30 minutes while I played a video game. Finally, he thought I was a borderline moron, and was getting really rude and suggesting I write things down. Then I told him I was dyslexic. That was pretty funny, there was like an awkward ten second pause, and then the click of him hanging up.

    This worked because I had an unlimited incoming call plan on my cell phone. Pretty freakin’ awesome.

    • Pious_Augustus says:


      He most likely thought it was awesome too because for every minute he was on that call he was getting paid per the hour, jokes on you too :P

  22. baristabrawl says:

    “Stop calling, my Uncle Vinnie knows a guy…”

  23. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    Debt collectors are dirty, lying, cheating bastards. I honestly believe that the evil way debt collectors go about collecting debt cancels out the evil of not paying a debt.

    I paid off ONE debt at the request of a debt collector before, and it was because the guy called me very politely and talked to me like a normal decent human being, and we worked out a nice small payment arrangement. To all the other rude bastards that call I simply tell them not to call me ever again and inform that that if they do, it is considered stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110.

    They’ll get paid in the order I choose as I clean up my credit (yes, I WAS young and irresponsible once, and my ex-wife even more so).

    • Pious_Augustus says:


      Your not a human being to a debt collector, your a debt beat debtor and thats the term used in the collection industry, debtor. Your less then human because you are yourself a liar and a theft all into one. You cannot pay your bills thus after the orginal creditor tries to deal with you your passed into collections.

      Of course you can choose to wait but depending on the client and depending on how much your also making further action can be taken on you note that.

      Oh before you go calling people liers and cheaters because you yourself cannot pay your bills, you should look into the mirror and see who the real cheater is, debtor.

  24. Hongfiately says:

    A debt collector left a message on my mother’s voice mail asking how to contact my brother-in-law. The way she described it he sounded like the same kind of over officious jerk who called Ben. Is there a school they go to for that?

  25. strathmeyer says:

    What, no [www.5min.com] ?

  26. banmojo says:

    the best technique is to say “yeah, she’s in the bathroom right now, do you mind holding for a few seconds?”

    then place the call on hold and walk away.

    soooooo awesome.

    if they call back, just keep doing this – they’ll eventually get tired of this. Peckers.

  27. blazenbu says:

    This is great! One very smart chap. Arrogance is beautiful when the other person is a jerk. Debt collectors are nothing more than pimps, without the physical pain. There is no reason to be polite, as they aren’t in the least even when they pretend. Besides, what a stress reliever. Remember, they can always find a more savory way of business. I agree they are motherfluckers.

  28. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    I get debt collectors calling for my deceased dad. They never identify themselves. Can I speak to your dad? No he isn’t here(I don’t mention he is deceased for legal reasons), can I take a message? Oh, no message I’ll call back later.

  29. JN2 says:

    When they call me, I say I’ll go get them, then turn up whatever screechy, avant garde neo-opera music (Diamanda Galas or The Residents are best) I am listening to and go make a PB&J.

    Oops, they didn’t wait long enough! Why did they hang up?

  30. Trencher93 says:

    I’ve noticed that debt collectors will troll randomly to try to find people, too – calling anyone and everyone.

    Cursing them out is not the answer. Just hang up.

    • Pious_Augustus says:


      No, a skip tracer is hired to find the debtor and then they will get a number and send it too the collection office then those numbers will be called.

      And they have a legimate right to go after looking for that person. How would you feel if someone borrowed from you and never payed you back costing you thousands of dollars?

      I’d want someone to get it back

      • donopolis says:

        How would you feel if someone borrowed from you and never payed you back costing you thousands of dollars?

        First of all, i don’t lend friends or family any money…If they were to need help from me, i would simply give what I can afford to give.

        The second half of the comment is a little misleading as most of these collectors are collecting debt that they bought from the original creditor. The person who has loaned the money is no longer involved. These are people that no-one entered into an agreement with.


        • Pious_Augustus says:


          Not all the debt is bought and it’s rare when the debt is bought because its ususally bad paper owned by a worthless debtor who for years could not pay it back.

          Also that doesn’t change the fact if it was a bought debt or not. That company lost money, you owe it back it doesn’t change a thing. You still owe someone money you failed to pay back just because someone else takes on your debt who is better equiped in dealing with dead beats it doesn’t change the fact you owe X amount of dollars, pay your bills

  31. Novaload says:

    You can have a lot of fun if you have time to kill. You can start describing your day in infinite detail on the way to answering their questions; you can tell them about your best friend Jesus, and sharing the good news; you can feign various forms of insanity–the point of the game getting the shark so exasperated he/she/it hangs up. Repeating random foreign phrases–and I know this is terrible but my friends’roommate has a stutter always grabs those calls to see how long the phoner lasts. I think the funniest two I overheard were 1) simply repeating back everything the caller said and 2) speaking like a parrot and appearing to give bits of info followed by little squeaks, whistles and random words of endearment.

  32. TheGreenMnM says:

    So, it’s legal for debt collectors to contact a third party and ask for address, phone number, and employer. Is the third party obligated to give said information? Can one get in trouble by not complying?

    • Rhayader says:

      @TheGreenMnM: Yeah that is my question. They might have the right to ask, but don’t I have the right to ignore their question?

      Just because it’s their job doesn’t mean I have to help them do it.

      • econobiker says:

        @Rhayader: That is often a reason that doctors offices ask for someone other than a spouse as a contact…to have someone to nag if you don’t pay.

        • Rhayader says:

          @econobiker: Yeah, but would that third party have any obligation to pay attention to those nags? Couldn’t he just tell them he doesn’t know where the patient lives, or even decide not to pick up the phone?

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      That’s a very good question. How do you know it’s a debt collector and not a scammer, if they won’t identify themselves? Or even if they do, all they say is “This is an attempt to collect a debt?”

      I would be very leery of giving anyone’s information. How do I know what they would use it for? And it’s not my job to take a message. I don’t even do that at work; that’s why we have voice mail.

  33. LVP says:

    Pick up the phone and put the receiver by the tv or radio. Or blow a fog horn into it.

  34. dlab says:

    Whatever you have to do to not lose your mind, man.

    We used to have debt collectors trying to reach a “Samantha Cox” that rented an apartment I used to live in. They called EVERY SINGLE DAY and even went so far as to send someone TO OUR DOOR – this girl showed up one day asking for Samantha, when we told her she didn’t live there, she turned around without saying a word and left even as we were calling out asking her what the girl had done.

  35. RandomHookup says:

    I get these on occasion, but mostly because of the address. I have the only landline in the building and they assume I _must_ know the previous tenants. The call Saturday was for the owner of the place 9 years ago.

  36. thinkliberty says:

    Debt collectors are a business and they want information that you might or might not have. Explain this to them and tell them them send you a check for 500 dollars and then you will listen to their question.

    I have found that those debt collectors are cheap bastards and can’t afford my services.

  37. bunch.of.wackos says:

    so he packs his mouth with peanuts before answering the phone??
    Seems like an interesting chap to have a conversation with