How to stop robotic collection calls (that aren't even for me?)
January 11, 2008 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting repeated collection calls for somebody who used my phone number when running up high bills. Here's the kicker -- the calls are multiple times a day, and BY COMPUTER. Basically, they're asking ME to call THEM to get this sorted out. Is this legal? Is there anything I can do?
posted by taumeson to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why wouldnt this be legal? A collection service is trying to get your attention. Call them to sort things out.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:41 AM on January 11, 2008

I had the same thing happen to me. Whoever had my phone number before me apparently never paid their bills. Some of the automated messages would have an option at the end of the message to press a number to let them know they had the wrong number. But, the majority are like you were saying--they want you to call them. Now when they call I just hang up on them. I've noticed the calls dropped off in number after a while but every now and then I'll still get a call for the past owner of my phone number. Sorry I don't have any advice. I know how annoying the calls can be.
posted by GlowWyrm at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2008

Try this Lifehacker tip.
posted by Cordelya at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why wouldnt this be legal? A collection service is trying to get your attention.

Because they are calling about some other random guy, not the OP.

Something similar to this was asked before.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:51 AM on January 11, 2008

This has happened to me a couple of times, and on both occasions I've called back to let them know they had the wrong number. The calls stopped right away. I'm not sure why using an automated message to contact debtors would be illegal.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:53 AM on January 11, 2008

The same thing happened to me. I wrote down the number and called to let them know the mistake and I haven't gotten any calls since. I've had the same phone number for five years and I still get calls for the deadbeat who had it before me. It's a hassle, but I don't want to change phone numbers.
posted by Alison at 12:02 PM on January 11, 2008

n'thing others as I had the same thing, but on my kids cell phone number. I finally got someone with a pulse and they said they would fix it although I should expect calls for up to two weeks after we spoke (and the calls did continue for a couple of weeks and then stopped).

One thing to remember is to call them from the number getting the calls and not from a work number as I did. They just didn't have the technical knowledge to match my call with the number they had on file. When I called from my kids phone it was taken care of relatively painlessly.
posted by worker_bee at 12:18 PM on January 11, 2008

I pay Pac Bell (or AT&T? I don't fucking know who runs these phone tubes anymore) the $2 a month they charge for number blocking.

It works brilliantly, and even though I'm upset I have to pay for it, the $2 a month ends up being a lower opportunity cost than dealing with calling people and getting off lists. It was definitely worth it to stop the fucking fax machine that was calling my home number every morning around 5 am.
posted by fishfucker at 12:20 PM on January 11, 2008

I just had this happen. I called the 800 number on the many recorded messages, and said that they were calling the wrong person. She said they'd stop calling but that I might still get calls for a few days because database updates were processed weekly in batches. I got a couple more of the auto-calls and then they stopped.

Since the person they were trying to reach was someone who had fraudulently used my SS# to get two car loans and then defaulted, I asked her to confirm for me that they were still trying to collect on those loans--just in case it was some new identity theft thing and not the one I resolved last year. She cheerfully confirmed that for me.

Took three minutes.
posted by not that girl at 4:20 PM on January 11, 2008

I got a few calls like this on a recently-purchased cellular phone with a new (or so I'd thought) number. I ran a Google search on the originating phone number, was able to trace it to a collections agency in Michigan, with a web site with contact info for the clients for whom they did collections (plus a P.R. agency contact e-mail). E-mailing them with a clear, definitive I am not the debtor you're looking for type of message got them to take my number off their phone list (or at least that's what they told me, but it's been a while since I've gotten a call from them, so I buy it).
posted by letourneau at 5:07 PM on January 11, 2008

This happened a lot when we moved last time. I just called the agnecies and told them they had the wrong people. Took 60 seconds and they stopped calling back.
posted by fshgrl at 6:33 PM on January 11, 2008

Another vote for spending 3 minutes to call them, inform them of their mistake, and never having to see the collection agency's number on the call display again. This happened to me after I got a new phone number last year. I waited months before I did anything about the calls I was getting because I'd hoped they'd just go away. They would hardly be an effective collections agency if they did.
posted by pantagrool at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2008

Wow this is timely and great info. I have been getting harrassing annoying calls for the last two weeks that are automated. I was chary of answering because i thought given the sleazy nature of collection agencies, they'd refuse to discuss the debt until I gave my name addy and perhaps social security # which would somehow "accidentally" become part of their debt record. So I guess I am a bit less fearful of that option.
posted by xetere at 5:51 PM on January 23, 2008

FYI that Lifehacker tip is complete trash. It does not work and has not worked in years. The TeleZapper is the exact same thing. Predictive dialing equipment is not swayed by silly 'play back a tone' techniques.

One way to get them to stop is to sue the crap out of them. At $1,000 a hit, they will hopefully learn to be more careful in the future. At the very least, they will leave you alone.
posted by drstein at 6:00 AM on January 24, 2008

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