Having a phone makes me feel dirty.
September 28, 2007 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm being hounded by creditors - and they're not mine. What can I do to get them to stop calling my phone number?
posted by dagnyscott to Law & Government (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We inherited a cell phone number that must have been previously owned by a serious deadbeat, because collector calls came in all the time. It was time consuming, but over time we just ended up explaining to all and sundry who called that this was no longer so-and-so's phone number, and it hadn't been so-and-so's number since dd/mm/yyyy. Eventually they just stopped.

Another time, someone my work cell phone number was getting collector calls - I eventually reached a human at the collection agency, explained what was going on, and they were actually seemed quite apologetic and thankful (probably because I'd helped them eliminate a dud phone number).

If there's a faster, easier way to do it, I don't know what it is. Patience and time worked for us, though it was pain.
posted by jquinby at 6:42 AM on September 28, 2007

I've gotten good results by being firm but polite as I explain the person is no longer at this number. If they call again, I ask for a supervisor and it's more firm and less polite, ending with this: I have clearly explained twice to you that the person you are looking for is not at this number. Whatever data-mining you used is incorrect. If you call me again, I will contact my state Attorney General's office."

They never call back after that. And, like jquinby says, most of them seem happy to get the info that their info is wrong.
posted by mediareport at 6:47 AM on September 28, 2007

Yeah, patience is all that did it for me. The ones calling me quit after about the fifth or sixth time I explained that I was Devils T. Advocate, and not the Devils R. Advocate they were looking for.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:54 AM on September 28, 2007

I took the time to explain, in no uncertain terms that "Wendy" used to own my phone and that I BOUGHT the number from the phone company. I think it's important to explain you don't know the previous owner. And I always ended the call with "put me on your do not call list."

I didn't want to change my number again so I stuck with it. All the calls for Wendy ended in about 6 months.

This is really common these days (for phone companys to re-sell numbers), by the way. And I think bill collectors understand that.
posted by cda at 7:49 AM on September 28, 2007

If you send a certified letter, return receipt requested, informing them that you aren't the droid they're looking for and asking them to send any further correspondence they feel necessary in writing, they HAVE to stop. If you get ANY calls from them after getting the receipt back, you can sue, so writing a letter is a sure-fire way of making them stop.

I used to get calls for someone else, and the person on the other end of the phone didn't really care who it was, they just wanted money and were out to get it any way they could. I've had things that were provably for someone else, reported to the credit bureau by collectors, in an attempt to extort money from me because they couldn't find whoever it was that actually owed the debt(if that person actually existed).

Now, I shoot first and ask questions later.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2007

This is my last suggestion to a posting similar to this. I would go the GrandCentral route.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 8:17 AM on September 28, 2007

The ironically named Bridget Steele writes bad checks with my phone number on them, so I feel your pain. Every six months or so we get phone calls from creditors and lawyers and even the police, occasionally. I have started saying that she is *fraudulently* using our number and they seem to like that word and usually stop until Bridget's next round of check-kiting. I also say stuff like, "I hope you find her because this is driving us nuts," which seems to help too.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2007

if you're willing to spend some money on it, rather than time, you should be able to purchase number blocking on your phone -- i'm not 100% aware if this'll work for debt collectors (I have to imagine they know of a clever way around it), but it worked great for blocking the fax machine that was calling us at 6 am EVERY GODDAMN MORNING. It ends up being $12 a year or so, and I was furious I had to pay for it (I feel like that should be a free service), but it fixed the problem immediately and only took 20 minutes of my time.
posted by fishfucker at 10:33 AM on September 28, 2007

I was in a similar situation and got tired of writing letters and waiting on hold to speak with supervisors so I called my service provider and got assigned a new number. It was done instantly and free of charge. I realize this may not work for everybody's situation but the first week of uninterrupted sleep was alone worth it!
posted by BigBwana at 1:36 PM on September 28, 2007

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