How do I make phone calls looking for my ex of 15 years ago stop?
February 9, 2008 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I got divorced almost 15 years ago. It was not a friendly divorce, and as such, I've not spoken to the ex since the night I found him in flagrante delicto. I've since remarried, had a kid, bought a house and have a stellar credit rating. Recently I've started to get collection agencies calling the house for the ex's debts. Other than dealing with each individual collection agency as they call at insane hours, is there any sort of general clearing house type place where I can say "I don't know where he is, I don't know what he's doing, and I'm certainly not going to pay his bills?" Is there anything I can do to make the phone calls stop? Do I have any legal recourse at all?
posted by dejah420 to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Just to clarify, were these debts incurred when you were married to him? Are they asking you to pay them or are they asking for his whereabouts?

Check out this site for more answers.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:06 AM on February 9, 2008

sometimes creditors will call just about anyone they think might know where the debtor is

my friend's creditor's called me just because i was on her phone bill a lot!!!

i don't think you have a lot of recourse, besides calling through to each collection agency telling them what the deal is - or changing your number
posted by Salvatorparadise at 8:17 AM on February 9, 2008

(You mention "insane hours." Dunno where you are, but under the law in the US, debt collectors can only call between 8 AM and 9 PM.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:20 AM on February 9, 2008

Best answer: Love Bud Hibbs' site!!

If the debt collectors violate the rules here, report them here (I have never dealt with any of these folks that did not violate the FDCPA in at least one way).

When they call, if you can actually get to a human who won't hang up on you, tell them you are not the person they are looking for, ask them to stop calling and ask for an address to send them a cease and desist letter. If you get a recording, try calling them back on the number on your caller ID (vs. the one they give you), you will sometimes get a receptionist - ask this person for the address for a cease-and-desist. Also, de-listing your phone number may help future collectors.

I had firms calling me non-stop for months for someone that didn't live here and multiple people with the same last name (threatening "judgment" and "delivering paperwork" within 72 hours, even - it never came), and I got pretty fed up - after asking for an address from one, reporting both to the FTC, and de-listing the number, the calls stopped. It's hard to be 100% sure there's a correlation there, but I went from 8 calls a day to radio silence.
posted by jenh at 8:21 AM on February 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

jenh has it. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act imposes fairly strict limitations on collections firms. Read up on it at the FTC site, and you should have the tools you need to stop the calls.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:28 AM on February 9, 2008

Response by poster: No, these are not debts incurred during our marriage. Our marriage was dissolved in 1993, and I've had zero financial dealings with him since. All of our consumer debt was paid for by the sale of our house, and I've checked my credit reports regularly to assure that everything on the accounts is mine. (Further complicating the issue; his brother had a wife with the same first name as there were two of us with that name floating around at one point.)

On the site you linked, they mention one of the companies that I've gotten calls from: MRS Associates, but they seemed fairly reasonable when I said "Look, divorced him 15 years ago, be glad to send you a copy of the decree if you want to send me a letter saying that you're attempting to collect his debts from me." They said they'd remove my phone number. We'll see if it actually happens or not.

Some other agencies have not been as cooperative. One guy from West Management actually yelled at me and said I was hiding assets and that they were going to put a lien on my house and force judgment, and yadda yadda yadda. I said that I was pretty cognizant of credit law, and that the next time I saw their number come up, I would be recording the conversation and if they tried anything that blatantly illegal again, I would file a complaint with the state attorney general.

It's been a real pain in the patoot, and unbelievably stressful. I get calls at all hours, on my land line and cell line. Now when my phone rings, my first response isn't "Whee, someone loves me", it's "Oh fuck, what now?" It's a nightmare.
posted by dejah420 at 8:35 AM on February 9, 2008

Response by poster: (Erm, my response response was to Frank...) Thanks for the other links gang. I've filed a complaint with the FTC about a couple of the more egregious agencies, but it hasn't made a difference, they're still calling.

I reckon I may have to lawyer up and start filing lawsuits.
posted by dejah420 at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2008

Just to take a different, and decidedly vindictive and passive-aggressive approach:

Have you considered trying to find out where this guy is, and happily providing contact information to these collectors?
posted by Rykey at 10:37 AM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't give them any information at all. However bad your ex is, he can't be half as bad as the collection agencies. Giving them any information just encourages them. Continue to fight!
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2008

Best answer: If the phone is the only medium used for harrassment, you could install this callerid filter, which only allows calls with callerid numbers you approve - otherwise calls go to voicemail or are ignored, your choice. This service will filter your incoming cellphone calls. Another way of taking control of incoming calls is to use a service like GrandCentral; instead of a filter box and a separate filtering service, you would get new unlisted numbers for your landline and cellphone and then give out one number provided by GrandCanyon, which forwards calls and uses only one voicemailbox for all phones. It's more trouble to set up but in the long run gives you the most control, and it's free for now.
posted by conrad53 at 1:45 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

If all else fails: small claims court. I don't know the particulars, but from what I do know, if he doesn't show up despite summoning, you win.
posted by koeselitz at 5:34 PM on February 9, 2008

Not helpful, but:

He cheated on a gal who says cool stuff like "flagrante delicto"? What an idiot.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:02 PM on February 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: jeffamaphone said: Don't give them any information at all. However bad your ex is, he can't be half as bad as the collection agencies. Giving them any information just encourages them. Continue to fight!

Yeah, they are pretty evil, and 15 years has done a lot to alleviate the need for revenge for my teenage marriage. ;) I'm more annoyed at the agencies than I am the ex. I know how agencies work, and they'll contact anyone even vaguely connected to the debtor. It's them I want to stop. As to the ex, I just feel bad for him that he's found himself in a position where debt collectors are hounding him.
posted by dejah420 at 6:37 PM on February 9, 2008

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