Collections Calls to wrong phone#
May 9, 2005 4:15 PM   Subscribe

What recourse do I have to stop a collections company from repeatedly calling my home for somebody who does not reside here?

First Premier Bank calls my house several times a day regarding a collection account for somebody I don't know. I have asked them multiple times to stop calling, I have explained that I don't know this person, and they refuse to take my phone number out of my system and say they are legally allowed to call me as often as I like. The privacy feature that blocks "out of area" calls is not an option for me as I receive work calls at home which are forwarded by a computer and can't come through to me if I have Bellsouth's Privacy feature installed. I live in Louisiana, if that matters. What can I do? Thanks!
posted by diamondsky to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Call your state's Attorney General and/or a congress person or two. They'll take care of it for you. This falls under a "commerce" problem and they deal with those.
posted by pwb503 at 4:22 PM on May 9, 2005

I kept getting calls like this about a year ago at my old phone number. No matter how many times I asked them to stop and take the number out of my system, they persisted -- until the day I said (very calmly) that I had retained legal counsel (heh, not really: I'd just talked to my brother-in-law, who's a lawyer) and if they called me one more time I would sue them for harrassment. I also asked very politely and calmly for the name, title, and mailing address for the person my lawyer should contact once we began proceedings.

Never heard from them again.
posted by scody at 4:25 PM on May 9, 2005

Tell them, "hey jackball, you're violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act."
posted by shoos at 4:25 PM on May 9, 2005

d'oh! read: "take my number out of their system." How is it I can preview something several times and not see this till the second I actually post it?
posted by scody at 4:26 PM on May 9, 2005

My parents kept getting calls for collections of ~$150 for some medical expense of my sisters. It went on roughly once a week for about 2 years, but didn't even start until about a year after she had left the house.

Finally my father answered, heard them threaten (not just bug), and proceeded to laugh, explain that my sister was on drugs and had no possessions, and said that they could pursue the matter with her personally at a cardboard box under the Flamingo underpass for the Las Vegas Flood Control Wash.

He concluded by saying that if they called there again to expect a lawsuit. We haven't heard from them since.
posted by mystyk at 4:32 PM on May 9, 2005

Best answer: and say they are legally allowed to call me as often as I like

Don't believe them. Folks above are dead-on target; mention a lawyer and tell them they're violating section 804.3 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. From shoos' link:

804. Acquisition of location information [15 USC 1692b]
Any debt collector communicating with any person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shall --

[...] (3) not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information

Tell them they have no reason to believe your information is erroneous or incomplete and you will sue them for harrassment if they call again.

It's funny, though; this has happened at our house twice in the past month and when I've told them there's been no one here by that name for at least three years, the collection folks quickly apologized and said they'd remove us from their list. I think you have a particularly assholish collection agency here, which means the threat of a lawsuit is probably your only hope.
posted by mediareport at 6:23 PM on May 9, 2005

Nothing new to add except that there is a woman in our city who has our phone # on her bad checks (written to a closed account). When I started telling the collectors and attorneys who called that she was *fraudulently* using our number, they started believing me. Everyone has always been nice about it, but I know they think that we're trying to cover for her. This has been going on for three years. What I want to know is, how is she getting all these checks? Aren't check companies supposed to verify that the account info is good?
posted by SashaPT at 6:28 PM on May 9, 2005

SashaPT: If she's kiting checks on a closed account, she's still using the batch of checks that she had before the account was closed. The check printing companies only verify that account is valid and that the name on the check matches the name on the account. It's fairly easy to get 3-4 years worth of checks in an order, especially if you don't write that many checks.

There is someone in this county with the same name as Mr R, and he's not exactly a good credit risk. I once had his boss call here looking for him "he's at work" "this is (where he's supposed to be)" "oh, you mean the *other* one. This number belongs to the Mr R who works at (this other place)" "sorry, ma'am." We've gotten collection calls and collection letters, but they go away when told to.
posted by jlkr at 7:17 PM on May 9, 2005

Best answer: When they identify themselves, interrupt immediately and ask them to wait a moment. Tap the phone lightly on something hard, then come back on the line and say something like this (works better if it sounds like you're reading it): "This phone call is being recorded for use in civil and/or criminal proceedings. Do you understand and acknowledge that you are being recorded?" Then hit them with the bit about consulting a lawyer, DA, AG, etc.
posted by forrest at 7:53 PM on May 9, 2005

Seconding SashaPT's concern, my parents used to get collection and other calls for someone they never knew. It turns out the person they never knew had been passing off my parents' second phone line (which no one ever called as it was hooked up to the computer) as her own along with their address. What you're going through could be a form of identity theft. All someone needs is an old phone bill that you didn't shred.
posted by ontic at 10:09 PM on May 9, 2005

I dealt with the same problem just last week. A very angry collection agency kept calling me in search of "Natasha". There's no such person in my apartment or in my family. The agent kept leaving messages on my voicemail and kept up until I called the switchboard of the company and informed them there was no Natasha at this number. The operator then asked if I knew this person, I said I did not, and that's the last I've heard of the matter.

A few days later there was a call from the State Department in search of "Gary", but that's a different matter, I think.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:33 AM on May 10, 2005

I asked this question last year. I too told them I'd report them and they disappeared.
posted by werty at 6:14 AM on May 10, 2005

I have found that pretending to record the call gets results too. Not just with collection calls, but any dispute I have with any company. Works especially well with cell phone providers. Underlings will immediately transfer you to a supervisor when you tell them that they are being recorded.
posted by terrapin at 6:49 AM on May 10, 2005

To second a few answers: the authority that actually covers this stuff is your state attorney general's office. Tell them you are calling the state AG the next time they call. If they call again, actually call the state AG's office. Ask for the consumer fraud department.
posted by Mid at 10:40 AM on May 10, 2005

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