How to stop someone from giving out my number as theirs?
June 4, 2009 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Suspect someone is giving our my number to their creditors.

I've had the same phone number for 3 years and have gotten creditors asking for the same incorrect person for these 3 years. When old creditors stop calling, new ones start up.

I know how to get the creditors to stop. I document their information and file a cease and desist letter if they keep calling. Then I take it up with the state attorney if they do not.

My question is this. Is there anything that can be done about this person who, I suspect, continues to give her creditors my phone number? Are they doing anything illegal by continuing to give out an incorrect number? I know their phone number and address. Thanks!
posted by a47danger to Law & Government (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How do you know they're continuing to give out the number? Creditors mine databases to get contact information, which could be many years out of date.
posted by sswiller at 6:52 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

They aren't giving your number out. Credit card collectors are idiots and look at any and all phone numbers.

Sadly, the only thing you can do is take pleasure in messing with the idiot scum or change your number.
posted by bensherman at 6:55 PM on June 4, 2009

I don't think it is that the person is continuing to give out your number. We are in same boat. We have gotten several calls a week for two years now about someone else's bad debts. My hypothesis has always been that these calls are about the same debts. They are never paid, so the debt collection agencies always have an incentive to track them down. Our number is the last contact number they have for the guy, so this is always the first place they call.

We're moving this weekend and we aren't going to move our landline, so that solves our problem. Maybe not the solution you want though.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 6:59 PM on June 4, 2009

It's also possible that they are selling the debt to another collection agency, and passing the same bad info they have on you to them, and you could be getting calls from many different collection agencies about the same debt, despite any c&ds you may have against any specific collection agency...
posted by yeoz at 7:12 PM on June 4, 2009

It's been happening to us for seven years. Our lady writes bad checks with our phone number on it. I can get the calls to stop for about six weeks at a time, then they start up again. There's nothing you can do about it. I was able to locate our deadbeat though local arrest records but never found current contact information.

We're finally sick of it and dropping our home phone number, although I've also gotten collection calls on the blackberry I have for work (and the number I had before this one belonged to a drug dealer - those calls were fun).
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:17 PM on June 4, 2009

We have the same problem. We get at least 2-3 calls a week for some guy from debt collectors, child services, welfare agencies, etc. We've had this number for almost 3 years. Every time I get someone to stop calling, a new place calls. It's frustrating. However, I don't know that he's still giving the number out - most of them are collection agencies, who will call any number that has ever been listed for a person. The social welfare agencies gave me pause, as they usually sound really surprised that this isn't his phone number, but I think they're probably just calling a last known number.

I think you should just keep doing the cease and desist stuff, but it might never totally stop unless you change your number.
posted by bedhead at 7:25 PM on June 4, 2009

I know their phone number and address.

This part jumped out at me. Is the "their" the person who keeps giving out your number? Maybe you could confront the person? Maybe a lawyer could tell you, in a free consultation, whether they could legally confront the person? At the very least, they could send a letter with a lawyer's letterhead, which might be enough.
posted by philomathoholic at 7:33 PM on June 4, 2009

Yep. Been happening to me for a couple of years. Whenever someone asks for *deadbeat*, I automatically answer "Yeah - I bet you're a collection agency and this guy is a deadbeat who's been giving out my number for a few years now." Then I ask them to remove my number from their list of numbers this deadbeat is currently residing. It seems the accounts get churned to new collection agencies at the rate of every three or four months or so.

You mentioned you have a new address & phone number. I'd just roll that info over & tell the collectors you're not who they're looking for & this is probably who they want to contact.
posted by torquemaniac at 7:39 PM on June 4, 2009

If you have the correct contact information of the deadbeat who is giving out YOUR number, give out hers to all who call. She will stop giving out your number when she realizes you are the one giving her up.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:11 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

We moved from a rented house about a year ago. I know the new tenant was named "Bob". We kept our same phone number when we moved, and a few weeks after that started getting collection calls for "Bob Deadbeat." We get new types of calls about once a month, always for the same name.

Our new number is still associated with the old address in some of the databases, so we figure they just search the address to get updated numbers, but in this case they get an old number. Check a site like to see if your number comes up for old addresses.
posted by Yorrick at 9:34 PM on June 4, 2009

We've had a more or less continuous string of these. By coincidence, I did a little self-googling and discovered that at least 2 people I've never heard of (and at least one I do know but who has never lived at this address) were attached to my household (and phone number) in various directories. This may be one of the reasons this doesn't die.

We've just told the creditors that we don't know the person, have never heard of them, that they do not live at this address, and to please stop calling. If they don't, you can start making noises about FDCPA and other such statutes* and they'll likely bugger off.

* Whether their actions are actually in violation of the statute is immaterial; they aren't typically well-enough informed to know
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:07 AM on June 5, 2009

My old roommate and I used to have this problem in an old apartment. Unlike you lucky folks who are getting a few calls a week, we'd get 3+ calls per day, all from computers designed to leave voice mail. You'd pick up the phone, hear silence for 30 seconds or so and then a recording "Hi, This is Phil, I'm calling about your account, can you give me a call back at 1-800-333-8598." It was all casual-like with the person even stammering or coughing or something occasionally so on the voice mail it would sound like a real person, not a recording. Always a different voice and different name.

But we were grad students so we were frequently home during the day and the phone was always ringing and we were going nuts. We called the 1-800 number and told them they had the wrong number. No dice. Apparently deadbeats lie. At night real (non-recordings) would call and we'd tell them it was the wrong number, but people kept calling.

This went on for months and months.

Finally, we called the phone company and had them add call-intercept (I think that's what it was called). Basically, if your number didn't show up on caller ID (as their numbers never did) the call was intercepted and they would have to either enter a pin that we could give to anyone, or identify themselves. So then our phone would ring and we'd hear a recording saying " is calling you. Press 1 to accept the call, 2 to reject, or 3 to reject and play a no-solicitor's message". Our regular old friends got through just fine with no interruption because their numbers showed on caller ID.

The phone stopped ringing and all was well with the world. Best $4/month you could possibly spend.

posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:44 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oops...I used greater than/less than as brackets above...that should be "[Their name as recorded by them] is calling you. Press 1 to accept...."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:53 AM on June 5, 2009

See, a local newspaper called up looking for their subscription money from the deadbeats. I said that there was no one here by that name.

They repeated the phone number to make sure they had it correct. I told them that, yes, that was the number you called.

Then they rattled off an address. And I said, no. No that isn't the correct address. And the, in my head I said, but that is very interesting information that you just gave me.

It seems like the best thing to do in my case is to give out the corrected address I got through this interaction and the phone number I found by looking up the address and last name.
posted by a47danger at 6:45 AM on June 5, 2009

This is kind of a shitty thing to do, but, since you know the debtor's number, you could give it to the creditor.

Or you could get caller ID and not pick up when they call.
posted by consummate dilettante at 7:35 AM on June 5, 2009

Buh. On preview, what you said. And what If only I had a penguin said...
posted by consummate dilettante at 7:37 AM on June 5, 2009

a47danger, it seems from what others have posted here that if you give out that address & phone number you could be inflicting your problem on another completely innocent party, and you still won't stop the creditors from calling you. You have no way of knowing if that number & address really do belong to the person everyone is looking for (after all, the newspaper had the address and still thought yours was the correct phone number) and in any case, collectors will call every number in a database, so giving out a new one to add to the list won't get yours removed from the list. In fact, it might make you seem like you know more about the Deadbeat than you're telling, and result in an increase in calls.

If the service If only I had a penguin describes is available I'd say that is your best option.
posted by philotes at 7:49 AM on June 5, 2009

Panasonic cordless phones, the DECT ones, have a most excellent call blocking feature but it is Caller ID dependent. Most collection agencies, even bottom feeders such as Bay Area Credit and Superior Asset Management use Caller ID.
posted by bz at 8:12 AM on June 5, 2009

Record who's calling. Inform them that they have an incorrect number, and that they must stop calling you. If they continue, contact the state attorney general. What they're doing is harassment, and it's probably not legal in your state. Someone with my 1st initial and last name is a deadbeat, and I was harassed by collectors when I had a land line. Informing them that I'd call the AG's office was pretty effective.

Weird that there's another T. Fifty-five out there.
posted by theora55 at 8:19 AM on June 5, 2009

This has happened to me over the last 7 years. After ignoring them for a few years I finally started answering with,"No, he has not had this # for years and I bet he owes you money." Everyone has been very polite and the calls dropped away quickly. When they start again, one conversation stops them.
posted by pointilist at 9:42 PM on June 5, 2009

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