This is my first post on these forums, so forgive me if this has been answered before. I have looked around and haven't seen a similar thread.
Anyway, I have a rather common name and so every day, I come home from work to find 4-5 phone messages looking for people with similar sounding names, wanting to collect on a debt. This is rather disturbing, since my FICO score is around 802 and I have no outstanding debt. Is there anything I can do to stop these phone calls? I have heard that if I respond to them and give them my info that I am NOT the person they are seeking, they just ramp up their efforts and try even more avenues (mail, email) to get me to pay up some other person's debt.
Does anyone have a strategy on how to avoid/stop this? Luckily, I have caller ID, so when the calls come in and I see them (usually a TOLL FREE CALL) I let it go to the answering machine and delete it after its done.
Hi and welcome to the forums.
Do you know the name of the CA that is calling? Are you 100% sure it is not a debt from long, long ago?
If you are, you can send the CA a letter telling them you are not the person they are looking for and to cease all communications with you.
I have been in the same situation. They were calling my cell phone number for the person that used to have it (I hate recycled phone numbers). After many efforts on my part telling them I was not who they were looking for, and they still called, the next time they did I told them that since they refused to delete my number I was not only going to file complaints with the BBB and the AG, I was going to sue them for harrassment. I never heard from them again.
Besides changing your number, I guess you could pick up the phone and set them straight right away.
I was getting collection calls at my home number for the dead guy that used to own the house that I currently reside. We only share the same address, different phone numbers. So I pick up the phone (b/c I know they are not calling for me) and just tell them, you've got the right house but wrong person and tell them the guy is dead - good luck collecting on that debt.
This so far has worked (NCO was one of the collection companies and some other companies too have called). I'm not getting any more debt collection calls for the dead guy!
It sounds like you are dealing with a very shady collection agency.
What they are doing is probably illegal.
If they are calling without clear knowlege that you are. in fact, teh consumer who owes debt with them, what they are attempting is called the "acquisition of location information," which is regulated by FDCPA 804, as follows:
"Any debt collector communicating with any person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shatt
"(1) identify himself, state that his is cofirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and only if expressly reqested, identity of his employer;
(2) not state that such consumer owes any debt;
(3) not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by person or unless the debt collector reasonbly believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location informatio....."
Thus, if a debt collector calls you requesting contact wtth a consumer, and additionally tells you that it is connection with a debt, that is a direct and serious violation of FDCPA 804(2).
I know its not my debt because the messages are saying its for a Rodney C. Smith, or a Russell Smith, and that is not my name. They are recordings, and the message says to delete this message if the person they are asking for is not me. Well, I get them almost every day.
I have tried talking to one of the companies, Apex Asset Management. The first time I talked to them, they confirmed that the debt was not mine (about $90 for visiting some health clinic in NJ - I don't live in NJ, I live in Florida). But yet they still call and leave messages from time to time. They were sending me letters about the debt, and I called to say they have the wrong person. They said to write that on the letter and mail it back, and I did. Yet the calls still come.
I like your idea of mentioning the BBB and Attorney General, plus the lawsuit thing. Apex is based in PA, would I contact the AG in Pennsylvania?
thanks for the insights all!
Having had a similar experience with collection calls, filing a complaint with the AG worked very well for me. They confirmed receipt of my complaint and sent a letter to the collection agency (so you do need to know which agencies/addresses to provide) and the collection agency sent written confirmation that I was indeed not the correct individual. All calls stopped (big sigh of relief!)
I live in CA and the calls originated from NY, but I filed the complaint online with the CA AG office. I would also recommend filing a complaint with the FTC. Although they might not act on your individual complaint, they do keep records of offending collection activity and the more complaints received and documented could lead to more stringent review of the identified agencies collection practices.
Still hard to comprehend why collection agencies refuse to accept that you are not the individual they are seeking -- getting the AG office involved is a good first step.
Of course, pursuing it through admin channels, such as the FTC, your BBB, or state AG wont hurt, but if you want to increase legal pressure, I would send them the following letter: This is a specific assertion of clear vioaltion of federal law, and effetively builds your case should you decide to bring separate civil litigation against them, apart from what the FTC of AG might do. It will get their renewed attention.
"You have called me on numerous past occasions, and those calls persist, in your attempt to locate a person in regard to your collection of a debt. I have notified you on those numerous occasions that I am not the party you are attempting to locate, and have no information regarding this party.
"I thus must remind you that it is a violation of FDCPA 804(3) for you to contact me more than once regarding your attempts to locate this person."
"Your activities have already violated the terms of FDCPA 804(3). I am reporting these past violations of the FDCPA to the FTC, by BBB, and my state AG.
Any further communications from you on this matter will only be added to your prior list of violations, in the event I should bring civil litigation against you."