The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share (MPSIMS)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-22-2008, 08:33 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Why am I getting all these (bogus?) debt-collection calls lately?

Tonite I get yet another message asking to collect a debt from yet another person who I've never heard of in my life. I've only been getting these for about the last year or so. They invariably state "If you aren't Joe Deadbeat, please hang up now. By continuing to listen to this message you acknowledge that you are Joe Deadbeat..." I find that last bit very irksome, because >I< haven't acknowledged anything at all, because it is my voice mail which gets the message (not I, as I have caller ID). I've lived at this current number for four years now.

It isn't possible that all of these people have had my number (area code included) since before 2004. In addition a check of my number (which is listed) via a reverse lookup which would take 2 seconds to perform would reveal...umm well it would reveal both me and some other bloke whom I've never heard of and don't understand why he has the same number as I (not one of the names that these collection agencies have parroted around).

So either these bill collectors don't know how to use the Internet, think 5+ year old phone listings are all guaranteed to be up to date, or this is some sort of scam. Anyone know what the SD (tm) is on this one?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 12-22-2008, 09:07 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Probably a typo in the Autodialer. Or a lazy skiptracer. Do me a favor, please, and note time and date of each call.

The only way to get rid of them is to listen to the entire message, and call the number. Have a pad and pencil handy.

State you have been receiving calls for someone you don't know. BE POLITE. The collector (or receptionist) will, theoretically, request the number called, your name, your address. BE POLITE. They have this info -- except, maybe, your name. Ask for their LEGAL business name (most collection agencies use akas -- ABC Inc stands for Always Butthead Collections, Incorporated), supervisors name, and mailing address. Write this down. Do not give anyone your social security number at this point. If the collector asks for the last two or four digits of your SSN, it's reasonably safe to give that info. If you're from a (different than your current address) small state, volunteer the first three digits.

If necessary, repeat, up to as many times as you can without wanting to choke someone, the number they are calling, your name, that you are NOT so and so, don't know so and so, don't want to know know so and so. Then tell the dumbass collector that you ARE reporting this to your State's Attorney General. Then do so (look in the blue pages of your phone book). By phone and in writing, and cc the Agency. Please.

Yes, I'm a bill collector, and I absolutely despise autodialers and sleazy agencies. I simply fire lazy skip tracers, without spite.

You might want to print this out, because once a number gets in the system, we will ALL try it a couple of times. Sorry.

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-22-2008 at 09:08 PM.. Reason: forgot something
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-22-2008, 09:50 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
How topical. A bit over a week ago, I received ongoing calls from GE Money for a couple of evenings. All of the above did not work, so I faxed the company's general counsel threatening legal action. They stopped.

At about the same time, I settled a file for one of my clients, in which I had written a cease and desist letter and had also registered a complaint against a collection agency, giving a good result, for the company immediately ceased. Actually, it really did cease -- it was in New Orleans and the fax was sent just before Katrina hit.

Moral of the story? Keep excellent notes, record the calls (if legal in your area), and play nice with the agents on the phone so as to get as much information about them as possible, and then either prosecute them immediately, or call in a natural disaster. Since most folks are not Mother Nature, that leaves the prosecution route. The higher up the ladder you go, the more effect you will have.

Last edited by Muffin; 12-22-2008 at 09:53 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-22-2008, 10:44 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
It isn't possible that all of these people have had my number (area code included) since before 2004. In addition a check of my number (which is listed) via a reverse lookup which would take 2 seconds to perform would reveal...umm well it would reveal both me and some other bloke whom I've never heard of and don't understand why he has the same number as I (not one of the names that these collection agencies have parroted around).
Unfortunately your number *is* now listed on the internet as belonging to Joe. However it came up the first time, it was then reported as a possible contact number for Joe to all the super secret <snork> skiptracing sites as well as a bunch of the anyone can use 'em sites, and, possibly, the major Credit Reporting Agencies. That's how the rest of us got it. People who don't pay their bills tend to not pay more than one bill, so we (collection agencies) are all trying to find Joe D as inexpensively and quickly as possible. The system has a lot of drawbacks, but it could be worse.

BTW -- the D-word is verboten. You can use it, the pros cannot.

The best defense is to let us (collection agencies) know that we have a wrong number or address. PleasePLEASEplease, if something adressed to someone else shows up your mailbox just scribble "moved" or "don't know him" or "???" on the envelope & put it back in the box. The lovely folks at the USPS will send it back to me, I will log it in as a bad address, and my people won't send you anything else. Pinkypromise. If you throw it away, I have to assume that Joe is ignoring my DUNs. I'm wrong about half the time, but only half.

Collection Agencies want to get the account paid. The wrong guy ain't gonna. Unfortunately, the "right" guy probably won't either. Finding the "right" guy can be very expensive, so we're playing the odds. Help us narrow the odds, and reduce the BS you have to deal with, by verifying that you are not the actual debtor. Please.

To Muffin: Oh, yeah, in-house collection departments are a PIMyA. They tend to have high turnover, minimal training, unreasonable quotas and a low lawsuit ratio. Good on you for following up. I have my own little list of Extra Special Financial companies (number one with a bullet rhymes with Shitty)

(BTW -- anything I say regarding Collection laws and/or practices applies ONLY the United States, and will vary by State and/or locality.)

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-22-2008 at 10:47 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-22-2008, 11:10 PM
Green Cymbeline Green Cymbeline is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 4,310
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
BTW -- the D-word is verboten. You can use it, the pros cannot.
What is the D-word??
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-22-2008, 11:20 PM
Voyager Voyager is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 34,212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
How topical. A bit over a week ago, I received ongoing calls from GE Money for a couple of evenings. All of the above did not work, so I faxed the company's general counsel threatening legal action. They stopped.

At about the same time, I settled a file for one of my clients, in which I had written a cease and desist letter and had also registered a complaint against a collection agency, giving a good result, for the company immediately ceased. Actually, it really did cease -- it was in New Orleans and the fax was sent just before Katrina hit.
Ooh, I can't wait until my son-in-law finishes law school and joins the bar.

We get them also. They request you press one to say you aren't the person. Doesn't work so well in voice mail. The person they were looking for had the same first initial as me (wrong sex) so I suspect they are programming their autodialers with all approximations of a name they are looking for. There was an item in our local Action Line about this also, so it seems to be spreading.

And sorry, MadPansy64 I will not be all that nice to random collectors calling repeatedly without the slightest effort to qualify the number.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-22-2008, 11:24 PM
Bobotheoptimist Bobotheoptimist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Those are for me, sorry.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:25 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,569
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
The best defense is to let us (collection agencies) know that we have a wrong number or address. PleasePLEASEplease, if something adressed to someone else shows up your mailbox just scribble "moved" or "don't know him" or "???" on the envelope & put it back in the box. The lovely folks at the USPS will send it back to me, I will log it in as a bad address, and my people won't send you anything else. Pinkypromise. If you throw it away, I have to assume that Joe is ignoring my DUNs. I'm wrong about half the time, but only half.
Oh, yeah - I had some [expletive deleted] start handing out my PO Box to a bunch of doctors and clinics. Man, was that a pain. I handed each and every one back through the post office, but for awhile it was a constant stream, and it only took about a dozen times for the ladies behind the counter to stop asking how long I'd had the box (over 9 years now) 'cause maybe it was a former renter of said box and so on.

Never opened any of the mail of course (it wasn't mine, after all) but once clinic was amazingly persistent, continuing to send bills (they looked like bills) for eight months despite them all being returned.

Periodically, we get a call for a former tenant of our apartment, who last lived here nearly 20 years ago. She's dead people, no, I'm not kidding or being mean it just a statement of fact. I dunno, maybe a relative or some other person is still using her ID, I have no clue.

The worst, though, was somebody looking for someone who had been in a motorcycle accident who was CONVINCED I was hiding him under the bed or something. No, goddamnit! I am not his girlfriend/wife/daughter/random hooker he hired to answer the phone. I don't know him, never heard of him, have no clue how to find him, and couldn't care less if you find him or not.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:26 AM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post

And sorry, MadPansy64 I will not be all that nice to random collectors calling repeatedly without the slightest effort to qualify the number.
Polite and Nice are not the same.

All I'm asking is that you do verify the number as wrong. It takes an effort on your part, and you are the only one who can decide whether verifying a wrong number is more effort than dealing with my new(ish) employee cluttering up your answering machine every day, and Mike's new(ish) employee cluttering up your answering machine every day and Kathy's new(ish) employee cluttering up your answering machine every day and Tom's new(ish) employee cluttering up your answering machine every day. If you don't tell us, we don't know.

I have no sympathy for autodialers. Those should be nuked from orbit. Just TRY to be not super nasty to the poor human stuck on the other end of the line. That humans job sucks big time.

If the "collector" decides that Shawn A Biggs is "close enough" to Dawna L HorrificlyLongUnpronouncebleSlavicNameWithNoFuckingVowels, then I approve your hissyfit. If you're J B Smith and getting calls and letters for John B or Jeff D, without ever correcting them, perhaps you ought not assume I'm psychic, and be polite.

<If you are Shawn A Biggs, thank you for finally paying off your Shittybank loan. And call your Aunt Annie.>

nyctea scandiaca -- the bad D word is <whisper> Deadbeat.

Seriously, from the bottom of my heart (and checkbook) I do not WANT to bug someone who doesn't owe the bill. I really truly want to get ahold of the actual debtor. All I'm asking is that you let me know the difference.

(ETA to Bobotheoptimist: ??? Wrong thread, maybe? Or is Mom still getting nasty calls for Bob Eyedoctor?)

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-23-2008 at 12:27 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:40 AM
Cillasi Cillasi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
If you live in a multi-family dwelling, but not an apartment building, they can call any number listed at that address looking for a resident. I have a 2-family house and when my sister who lives in the other apartment ran into financial difficulties, I got all her collection calls...until I threatened her that I'd give them her cell phone number unless she got it stopped.

Usually, telling them it is a multi-family dwelling will be enough to make them stop.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-23-2008, 12:47 AM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Oh, yeah - I had some [expletive deleted] start handing out my PO Box to a bunch of doctors and clinics. Man, was that a pain. I handed each and every one back through the post office, but for awhile it was a constant stream, and it only took about a dozen times for the ladies behind the counter to stop asking how long I'd had the box (over 9 years now) 'cause maybe it was a former renter of said box and so on.

Never opened any of the mail of course (it wasn't mine, after all) but once clinic was amazingly persistent, continuing to send bills (they looked like bills) for eight months despite them all being returned.

Periodically, we get a call for a former tenant of our apartment, who last lived here nearly 20 years ago. She's dead people, no, I'm not kidding or being mean it just a statement of fact. I dunno, maybe a relative or some other person is still using her ID, I have no clue.

The worst, though, was somebody looking for someone who had been in a motorcycle accident who was CONVINCED I was hiding him under the bed or something. No, goddamnit! I am not his girlfriend/wife/daughter/random hooker he hired to answer the phone. I don't know him, never heard of him, have no clue how to find him, and couldn't care less if you find him or not.

I absolutely despise autodialers and sleazy agencies. I simply fire lazy skip tracers, without spite.

Stupid collectors I fire, not with spite, but without sorrow. The profit margin is too thin. You can take some cold comfort in the probability that the most obnoxious collectors are now, if they're lucky, asking "ya want fries with that?"

Sorry. Really, I am. There isn't much I can do about it, but I am sorry there are so many idiots and sleazeballs in my industry.

ETA -- In house collections suck. I won't apologize for them, since I end up cleaning up their mess. That's my job, I make a profit, but they could stop going out of their way to make it harder.

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-23-2008 at 12:51 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-23-2008, 03:49 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
A few months ago my mom started getting mystery calls about a Very Important Matter and to press 1 to talk to a representative. Her not being a complete idiot hung up the phone instead, until this happened for several weeks. Finally she pressed one just to ask WTF they wanted. The lady who answered at first refused to tell her what it was about and what company it was for. After some wheedling and getting progressively upset they finally said they were looking for... me. I've never lived at my mom's present address nor ever given out her number as my number. Also turns out that it's for a phone bill that's still being addressed because of my ongoing divorce. The only thing I can think of is they used the emergency contact for when I'd had the account and try to contact me that way. Why they thought I'd be living with her I'll never know.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-23-2008, 04:28 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,569
People like that don't care if you live there or not, they're just looking to bully someone into giving your whereabouts/phone number/whatever.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-23-2008, 06:25 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cillasi View Post
If you live in a multi-family dwelling, but not an apartment building, they can call any number listed at that address looking for a resident. I have a 2-family house and when my sister who lives in the other apartment ran into financial difficulties, I got all her collection calls...until I threatened her that I'd give them her cell phone number unless she got it stopped.

Usually, telling them it is a multi-family dwelling will be enough to make them stop.
Are you my husband? Wait, you can't be, the calls haven't stopped. Same deal, with his sister, etc, except she's moved. We've been going ahead and giving them her cell number, since she no longer has a landline, and her home address too. I was tempted not to since she owes us a couple grand, but these days I no longer expect we'll see that money again.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 12-23-2008 at 06:26 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-23-2008, 07:50 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Posts: 31,600
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
State you have been receiving calls for someone you don't know. BE POLITE. The collector (or receptionist) will, theoretically, request the number called, your name, your address. BE POLITE. They have this info -- except, maybe, your name. Ask for their LEGAL business name (most collection agencies use akas -- ABC Inc stands for Always Butthead Collections, Incorporated), supervisors name, and mailing address. Write this down. Do not give anyone your social security number at this point. If the collector asks for the last two or four digits of your SSN, it's reasonably safe to give that info. If you're from a (different than your current address) small state, volunteer the first three digits.
Volunteering part of your SSN just baffles me. If it's not John DiFool they want, they have no right to, or use for, that information; they simply need to be told that Joe Deadbeat is not at that number and that they must stop calling.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 12-23-2008, 03:49 PM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 12,310
I had some loser deadbeat give out my cell number to several different people, including the Wachovia credit card department. That took a few calls to straighten out.

Robin
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 12-23-2008, 04:10 PM
Voyager Voyager is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 34,212
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post

I have no sympathy for autodialers. Those should be nuked from orbit. Just TRY to be not super nasty to the poor human stuck on the other end of the line. That humans job sucks big time.
If the call comes from a person, then I am both polite and nice, since the person usually says sorry, and that's the end of it. If the person decides she doesn't believe me and calls again, that will be a different matter. (Hasn't happened in these cases.) However people working for companies with autodialers might want to transmit their experiences with callers to their management, who might decide to spend a few seconds doing that one extra search to narrow it down.

ETA: When I lived in Louisiana there was a person in town with my name whose credit history was rather spotty. This was back when real people called, and I never minded creditors calling me to look for him, since that is a natural mistake. However my last name is reasonably common, as is my first initial, so assuming they are calling everyone with my last name and first initial, they really need to try harder. I also do not use my first initial in the phone book, so I don't see how they are making the connection.

Last edited by Voyager; 12-23-2008 at 04:13 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 12-23-2008, 05:02 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,569
I'll be polite if they are polite, but when the conversation rapidly advances to the caller threatening me with legal action if I don't produce a person I never heard of, or give contact information for same, I am NOT going to say polite. That's just... pitworthy. You threaten me I will not remain a nice person.

Yes, I realize not everyone tracking down deadbeats is an asshole. Unfortunately for the good ones, there are enough bad apples that a lot of the general public are pretty hostile to these folks.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 12-23-2008, 05:10 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,524
See if you have a blocking feature on your phone. Mine starts with *60 and I can block the last call received with a few more prompts. It works.

Having been the victim of bill collector shenanigans, I don't think being polite with them works very well. The only choices I see are:
  • Prepare to pursue a lengthy, detailed and expensive legal remedy or
  • Block the calls you can, or
  • Give them time. They WILL give up, as their time is worth money. All you need is more patience than they, and 99% of their threats are total bluff.

Edited to add: some phones have a feature where all calls not in your "whitelist" are routed to a screening "mailbox" where the caller gets a prompt and a chance to ID himself before connecting. This might not work for your lifestyle (it wouldn't with mine), but it's a good feature if you can work with it.

Last edited by Musicat; 12-23-2008 at 05:13 PM.. Reason: More info
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 12-23-2008, 06:34 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
I wish my phone had an option whereby I could call forward calls from only certain numbers.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 12-24-2008, 10:43 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
Volunteering part of your SSN just baffles me. If it's not John DiFool they want, they have no right to, or use for, that information; they simply need to be told that Joe Deadbeat is not at that number and that they must stop calling.
If your name is at all common, the last 4 digits of your ssn will verify that you are NOT one of my debtors.

Okay, say your name is Joe Hanson. Keep in mind that I run a very small agency. For big agencies, stick another digit in these numbers!

Anyway, you call in to tell me that I'm calling the wrong guy. Thank you, but when I search for "hanson" in my system, I get 8000 accounts. J hanson gets 5000, Joe Hanson gets 1200, Joseph Hanson gets 500. Halve those numbers if you mention you spell it Hansen. Searching by your address gets 11 results, none of which are active accounts or have names even vaguely similar to any variation of Joe Hanson. Searching for your phone number, in the "home number" field, nothing, in the "work number" field 312 or zero (how big is your company?) in the cell field, in the alternate number field, or the references YOU LISTED "number", yadda yadda, and if I was trying a POSSIBLE contact number it won't show up at all ever, because it's not listed in a searchable field . . . 30 minutes later, we've both gone insane, and after the nice young men in the clean white coats take me away, the guy who gets stuck with my backlogged accounts will call you, and you get to do this all over again.

That's not even mentioning the additional complications if you are a business owner, bookkeeper, registered agent, trust manager or, Og forbid, a female debtor/employee who has gotten married or divorced in the last 6 years.

If you tell me a portion -- not the whole thing -- of your SSN, I can scan the possible matches to eliminate or verify you as "my" debtor. Last 4 or first 3 are easiest -- my software doesn't put hyphens in, so the middle two are a bit of a PITA for me, but better than nothing.

With certain software (very expensive) I can narrow the search by last 4 of your SSN, and we skip all of the above.

If I have your SSN, we can then skip a lot of the frustration, glance at the possible matches, ask if the first three are <123>, you say nope, and I NOTE the account that your phone number is the wrong Joe Hanson. I (my agency) will not call you again.

If you ARE a debtor in my system, just not the one I left a message for, there's a 50-50 chance I'll notice. Either way, I won't be calling tomorrow for the wrong Joe.

Skiptracing (which is what "finding the debtor" is called) isn't a one plus one equals two endeavor.

Telling a collection agency a portion of your SSN is NOT an invitation for Identity theft. Seriously. The last 2 of mine is 01. When I call you, I already KNOW Joe's SSN. I just want to know if I found the person who owes the damn bill.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 12-24-2008, 10:56 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,524
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
Telling a collection agency a portion of your SSN is NOT an invitation for Identity theft. Seriously.
Telling a stranger the last four is REALLY STUPID, because if they already have your name, address and phone, only ONE thing stands in the way of accessing your telephone account, cable account, utility accounts, internet access account and maybe others: the last four digits of your SSN. That's all they ask for when I call up those services. Give me your last four and I'll cancel all of your accounts in minutes.

The burden of proof is on the collection agencies to find the right person. That's their job. Calling someone who MIGHT be the right one is nothing but harassment. If they want your help, tell them to make you an offer of $. Is the info you can give them worth something? Then they can damn well pay for it.

Collections agencies are the scum of the earth, do more harm than good, and the fact this OP exists is evidence of it.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 12-24-2008, 10:56 PM
Bobotheoptimist Bobotheoptimist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64

(ETA to Bobotheoptimist: ??? Wrong thread, maybe? Or is Mom still getting nasty calls for Bob Eyedoctor?)
That was a joke. A knee slapper. You're built too low. The fast ones go over your head. Ya got a hole in your glove. I keep pitchin' 'em and you keep missin' 'em. Ya gotta keep your eye on the ball. Eye. Ball. I almost had a gag, son. Joke, that is.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 12-25-2008, 12:00 AM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I'll be polite if they are polite, but when the conversation rapidly advances to the caller threatening me with legal action if I don't produce a person I never heard of, or give contact information for same, I am NOT going to say polite. That's just... pitworthy. You threaten me I will not remain a nice person.

Yes, I realize not everyone tracking down deadbeats is an asshole. Unfortunately for the good ones, there are enough bad apples that a lot of the general public are pretty hostile to these folks.
If the collector threatens legal action when they don't intend and have no basis to pursue legal recourse, then you need to call your lawyer (if you have one) or your states Attorney General, or both. That is a massively huge no-no in the biz. Seriously. Even letting you (who is Not The Debtor) know it's about a bill is way-bad-jujus. Harrassing a third party is beyond the pale. Please. Ethical agencies hate sleazeballs more than you do.

BTW -- If you ARE the debtor (not Broomstick -- this is directed at those debtors who are looking for ways to not pay their bills), just get the agency's contact info, send us a letter saying "cease and desist." The debt will be reported to a credit reporting agency, and it is entirely possible (and legal, depending on your and/or the creditors local laws) that your assets may be attached, but I won't call you, except possibly (depending on local laws) to inform you that the debt will be reported to a credit reporting agency, and it is entirely possible that your assets may be attached.

Musicat -- If I have your name, address, and phone number, I already have all nine digits of your SSN, and don't want to steal your identity. Since I, a bill collector, already have all that info, and have reported your COLLECTION account status to the major credit reporting agencies, verifying that you are you won't screw up your credit any more than it already is.

I promise, that some where in the country, there IS a Joe whose SSN starts with 365 (Minnesota, I think, but don't quote me on that) and another whose ends with (number chosen at random) 62. If he's not my debtor, I don't care. If I don't have all that info, and I try to get a VISA card with your SSN, Equifax is going to spit out ***********warning***************** substantial difference in address **********warning**************** name does not match SSN *************warning************ Possible fraud attempt (or words to that effect) when CapOne or BestBuy runs the report.

If everything matches, the credit reports simply list all (unpaid, collection, write off) accounts.

Either way, I ain't getting me a girl robot.

Jesus. Identity theft is bad, but paranoia isn't helpful. If you aren't sure you've called back a legitmate agency, then don't give me any info. But don't get pissy when I can't get your number out of my system and call you back. As for cancelling your ulitities, I want you to pay the fucking bill. How the hell would shutting off your electricity make that happen?

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-25-2008 at 12:04 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 12-25-2008, 12:34 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
As for cancelling your ulitities, I want you to pay the fucking bill. How the hell would shutting off your electricity make that happen?
It would improve the cash flow.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 12-25-2008, 12:36 AM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post

Collections agencies are the scum of the earth, do more harm than good, and the fact this OP exists is evidence of it.
Would you really like to make Collection agencies disappear? Then make sure every one one pays their bills, lives within their budget, has a reasonable budget to live within, and never bitch about your taxes.

Congratulations, you've just reinvented communism, except for the part about it not actually working in practice. See, with that system, when a bookkeeper fucks up, you get hauled off to a re-education camp.

Or we Americans could just figure out how to live in a cash & carry society. You pay cash for everything, right? As does your employer, of course.

I would love to retire. Please, reform the country so I can sleep in.

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-25-2008 at 12:39 AM.. Reason: spelling, as usual
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 12-25-2008, 12:49 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
Then make sure every one one pays their bills, lives within their budget, has a reasonable budget to live within, and never bitch about your taxes.

Congratulations, you've just reinvented communism, except for the part about it not actually working in practice.
That has nothing to do with communism.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 12-25-2008, 12:57 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
I expect the general disgust with collection agencies is due to the prevalence of bad actors.
I don't see any quick solution to that, given the interjurisdictional obstacles in dealing with harassment and the enforcement of assigned debts.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 12-25-2008, 02:32 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,569
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
If the collector threatens legal action when they don't intend and have no basis to pursue legal recourse, then you need to call your lawyer (if you have one) or your states Attorney General, or both.
Oh right, I have a lawyer...!

You know, for all I know, they DO intend to sue me and THEY think they have a "legal basis" to do so. Why the HELL do I have to be the one to pay a lawyer to have people leave me alone when I've done nothing wrong? That's the problem - they think I'm someone else, or their deadbeat lives at my house. Until I can convince them otherwise they think they're in the right. The notion that I have to pay a lawyer to be left alone when I've done nothing wrong and owe no one any money is just... wrong.

Quote:
Harrassing a third party is beyond the pale. Please. Ethical agencies hate sleazeballs more than you do.
The problem invariably seems to be they aren't convinced I'm a "third party". They're convinced I'm a first party. Or trying to hide the first party.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 12-25-2008, 02:33 AM
Pixilated Pixilated is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTOJ View Post
The only thing I can think of is they used the emergency contact for when I'd had the account and try to contact me that way.

This is exactly what the "alternate number/emergency contact" is used for - especially on credit applications.

In some states, I think it is a law that the person has to identify themselves and why they are calling, even on an answering machine.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 12-25-2008, 04:19 AM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixilated View Post
This is exactly what the "alternate number/emergency contact" is used for - especially on credit applications.

In some states, I think it is a law that the person has to identify themselves and why they are calling, even on an answering machine.
No! Actually, it is against the law in the US for a collector to say why he/she is calling, unless speaking to the debtor. It's called Third Party Disclosure and violating it is a HUGE giant super no-no according to the FDCPA.

In most jurisdictions, after verifying that you are PROBABLY the debtor (for example -- ring ring. "hello?" "May I speak to Joe please?" "Ya got him!" counts for the purpose of Initial disclosure), then I must IMMEDIATELY inform you that my call is "an attempt to collect a debt" but not until. Answering machines/voicmail/faxes are generally considered third party.

The definition of "third party" in the collection biz is "not the debtor." Collection law tends to be less than precise

When calling references/alternate number/emergency contacts, we can (in most states) say that Joe listed you as a reference/alternate number. In some states, saying you're an "emergency contact" is illegal, but, yes, the purpose of a creditor asking for that info is to obtain Joe's contact info should he default on the note.

Whether or not you are Joe the Debtor, we must ID ourselves when asked directly. That is why I have advised people to ask for the callers LEGAL business name and mailing address. "ABC Inc." is legal, but Always Butthead Collections, American Butthead Collections, Always Butthead Collectors and Arrogant Bullies Company may all be dialing your number. Determining which is which, whichout crossreferencing addresses, makes life easier for you, me and your Attorney General when dealing with a problem agency.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 12-25-2008, 04:39 AM
Jaglavak Jaglavak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Suggestion, folks: MP64 is just trying to be helpful and explain the process. No need to leap all over him/her. I've been through the mill myself once or twice and it pissed me off too. This is how it looks from the other end, that's all.

Just keep in mind that if push comes to shove, you can't get nailed for anyone else's debt unless there's identity theft involved. No court will attach my wages unless they have a positive ID and I've been served.

Sorry MP64, but I've never actually met a 'good guy' bill collector like you. These days I just tell the guy he has a wrong number and hang up. If they bother me after that I screen my calls til they shove off. My friends know where to find me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
Or we Americans could just figure out how to live in a cash & carry society. You pay cash for everything, right?
Works for me. There are only three good reasons to borrow. One, to generate enough money to pay off the debt and make a profit. Two, to get a better interest rate on existing debt. Three, to buy the house that you live in (but wait til the bubble is done popping). That's all.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 12-25-2008, 05:20 AM
Pixilated Pixilated is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
No! Actually, it is against the law in the US for a collector to say why he/she is calling, unless speaking to the debtor. It's called Third Party Disclosure and violating it is a HUGE giant super no-no according to the FDCPA.
hmmmmm..... being new to this area and hearing a disclosure on an answering machine made me think that each state differed. the answering machine is very generic, and one cannot help but to overhear when it picks up and the column is turned up and it happens to be a moment of silence (resident stepped out of room, not home, etc). Funny that I am almost 100% positive that the beginning of the call indicated that they are required by law to inform you that this call is from a collection agency in attempt to collect on a bill (this was a recording, i do believe).


Oh! Wait! When I said 'why they were calling' I meant in general, non-specific terms... not: "hey deadbeat, you owe $5000 for that boob-job on that stripper you adore so much" (this was an example and by all means does not reflect any such real person that *I* know of).
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 12-25-2008, 08:16 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixilated View Post
Funny that I am almost 100% positive that the beginning of the call indicated that they are required by law to inform you that this call is from a collection agency in attempt to collect on a bill (this was a recording, i do believe).
Yeah, I've been getting collection calls for a sister-in-law at our number (we used to be her neighbor too), and the automated calls claim this same thing, that they're required by law to inform you that this is a collection attempt. I thought that was illegal.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 12-25-2008, 08:56 AM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
No! Actually, it is against the law in the US for a collector to say why he/she is calling, unless speaking to the debtor. It's called Third Party Disclosure and violating it is a HUGE giant super no-no according to the FDCPA.

In most jurisdictions, after verifying that you are PROBABLY the debtor (for example -- ring ring. "hello?" "May I speak to Joe please?" "Ya got him!" counts for the purpose of Initial disclosure), then I must IMMEDIATELY inform you that my call is "an attempt to collect a debt" but not until. Answering machines/voicmail/faxes are generally considered third party.

The definition of "third party" in the collection biz is "not the debtor." Collection law tends to be less than precise
Okay-then is my answering machine automatically "acknowledging" that I am Joe Deadbeat because it can't hang up when the message/collector says "If you aren't XXX then hang up now; by continuing to listen to this message you acknowledge that you are XXX"? Shouldn't THEY immediately hang up once they realize that they have reached my answering service and not me?
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 12-25-2008, 09:53 AM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,524
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
Musicat -- If I have your name, address, and phone number, I already have all nine digits of your SSN, and don't want to steal your identity. Since I, a bill collector, already have all that info, and have reported your COLLECTION account status to the major credit reporting agencies, verifying that you are you won't screw up your credit any more than it already is.
You see, that's the problem. You THINK you have my SSN, but what you really have is some SSN. Is it mine? Maybe not. But bill collectors have a standard badgering technique that assumes their info is correct, and the gullible who believe it are their victims.

And how do I know someone calling me is a "legitimate" collector? It would be pretty stupid to assume that and volunteer personal information, wouldn't it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin
I expect the general disgust with collection agencies is due to the prevalence of bad actors.
You said it. I would have nothing against collectors except they either violate the law or skirt it so closely it's difficult to get them to pay up or stop.

I have been to court over misidentification twice. One I won easily, the other is still in litigation. Since I have infinite patience, the facts are on my side, and I know my way around the legal system reasonably well, I will win that one, too. However, getting damages, which would be the next step, is not likely to be rewarding, and the collectors count on that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaglavak
Just keep in mind that if push comes to shove, you can't get nailed for anyone else's debt unless there's identity theft involved. No court will attach my wages unless they have a positive ID and I've been served.
Apparently it's not necessary to actually serve someone or look at an ID to get a conviction in court, at least in some states. I speak from personal experience. If an agency thinks it can get away with it, there are a number of dirty tricks that are used.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 12-25-2008, 10:28 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Apparently it's not necessary to actually serve someone or look at an ID to get a conviction in court, at least in some states. I speak from personal experience. If an agency thinks it can get away with it, there are a number of dirty tricks that are used.
That's where interjurisdictional debt assignment gets nasty, for it introduces delays in the adjudged debtor finding out about the problem, and often the cost of litigation at the other end of the continent exceeds the debt.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 12-26-2008, 07:56 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaglavak View Post
Suggestion, folks: MP64 is just trying to be helpful and explain the process. No need to leap all over her. I've been through the mill myself once or twice and it pissed me off too. This is how it looks from the other end, that's all.
<snip & bolding mine. I'm female>

Thank you.

Quote:
Sorry MP64, but I've never actually met a 'good guy' bill collector like you. These days I just tell the guy he has a wrong number and hang up. If they bother me after that I screen my calls til they shove off. My friends know where to find me.

Oh, I've never claimed to be a sweetheart. I am a professional, who understands that I'm not bringing joy to your household when I call. I *will* yell back (using FDCPA compliant terminology), and sue your ass if I have to. I also don't believe that having an unpaid bill = bad guy, or answering the phone = responsible party. There are quite a few of us out there, but the sleazeballs are a lot more memorable.

I also understand that one can catch many more flies with honey than with vinegar, and that getting sued and/or fined seriously fucks up my profit margin.

Asset attachment is not my preferred method of collection (guess why, folks! Very good! It cuts into my profit margin!) but it is frequently necessary. Being nasty to me just makes me much less inclined to work with you, and slightly happier about the cost of my attorney and the process servers.

People, I have good reason to advise you to be polite and REASONABLY cooperative when dealing with bill collectors, and it is not to fill my days with hearts and flowers. I've had to deal with moronic collectors -- see post #9 for a recent situation about a wrong number, as well having had 8 kids and 2 (now ex) husbands with common surnames. I'm fully aware of the joys of dealing with sleazeballs on a personal level. When I'm at home, I have to do what I'm telling y'all to do to get rid of the sleazeballs, because it works!

Can some of you try remember that I'm the one advising y'all on EFFECTIVE, legal and ethical ways to make sleazy agencies a thing of the past, or at least get them to stop dialing your number?

And please forgive my double posts. I'm having ISP issues at home, and am trying to catch up before the inevitable next crash.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 12-26-2008, 09:05 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
Okay-then is my answering machine automatically "acknowledging" that I am Joe Deadbeat because it can't hang up when the message/collector says "If you aren't XXX then hang up now; by continuing to listen to this message you acknowledge that you are XXX"? Shouldn't THEY immediately hang up once they realize that they have reached my answering service and not me?
Yes, the burden should be on the creditor. However, collection law is (forgive me if I use the wrong terms here. IANAL, I'm a collector) not codified. It's almost entirely based on precendence. Plus fucking nasty stupid evil Autodialers can not "realize" anything.

The "if you don't hang up you're admitting you're the responsible party" crap is going to be a PITA for a while, and then it's going to go away. There has been one (maybe two) ruling on the practice, by a judge who is rumored to be VERY creditor friendly in a historically creditor friendly state. There are a couple more cases pending in other jurisdictions, at least one of which is a debtor friendly state, so the "law" isn't yet written in damp sand, much less stone.

Yet another reason I'm advising people to call the agency, and then contact their states Attorney General if necessary, every time you get a Collection call for which you are not the correct debtor.

If that tactic proves to be legal, I seriously doubt I'll embrace it. In the states I collect in, leaving a message on an answering machine doesn't count as "serving notice" so that wouldn't be cost effective even if it is the right number. As an agency owner, I'd be concerned that it could make my collectors complacent (aka lazy) about accurate skip tracing. My bitch sessions. . . er, I mean networking, yeah, that's it . . . networking with my cohorts around the country lead me to believe that the "debt acknowledgment message" BS isn't going to last.

It's possible that such a message might actually inspire wrong numbers to bother inform us that they are not the debtor, which would be good, but I'm not sure I want to waste time listening to all the "Stop calling me, I'm not Joe! <click>" call backs that would result. I get enough of those without the controversial message.

I've slammed autodialers previously in this thread. I hate them, but they are cost effective for large agencies, especially for older or small balance accounts from large clients. Montana regulations on autodialers are restrictive (not restrictive enough, but more so than many other states), I am a small agency, and I have a major hair up my ass about the fucking things. They are probably not going to go away, however.

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-26-2008 at 09:08 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 12-26-2008, 09:20 PM
Mama Tiger Mama Tiger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
It gets interesting when a US company hires a collection agency located in Canada. Which can then, apparently, talk to whoever answers the phone about the debt at the US address. The advantage, of course, is that Canadian bill collectors are just insanely polite by US bill collector standards.

I've gotten periodically, as recently as a year ago, demands to pay a bill owed by my ex-husband that was incurred after we were divorced, from a company that I have never in my life done business with. I assume they were just fishing, but after I told them the first time the date of our divorce and they still persisted in trying to collect (at least they only did it by mail), I felt guilt-free in chucking their crap. Frankly, if they continue to act after they've been given a legal reason why the debt isn't mine, it's their time they're wasting, not mine.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 12-26-2008, 10:42 PM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixilated View Post
Funny that I am almost 100% positive that the beginning of the call indicated that they are required by law to inform you that this call is from a collection agency in attempt to collect on a bill (this was a recording, i do believe).
I believe you. There is no doubt in my mind that you heard what you think you heard.

I also believe (depending on the state in which you reside, and the state in which the agency exists) that the agency is just begging to get slapped with a boatload of $1000/occurance fines for violating 3rd party disclosure.

It is possible that you (or the agency) are in one of the states that emphasize the mini miranda ("this is an attempt to collect a debt . . .") over third party disclosure. Call your Attorney General anyway.


(BTW -- most, but not all, states have the office of the Attorney General handle this sort of thing. But the Attorney General's office receptionist will usually be very happy to direct you to the proper agency.)
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 12-26-2008, 11:20 PM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 12,310
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
That's where interjurisdictional debt assignment gets nasty, for it introduces delays in the adjudged debtor finding out about the problem, and often the cost of litigation at the other end of the continent exceeds the debt.
I don't know if this is true in every state, but if a collection agency gets a judgment in, say, Illinois, it still has to perfect the judgment in Pennsylvania in order to garnish wages and so forth. So the court in Pennsylvania can tell the collection agency to bugger off if it thinks the judgment is faulty or (AIUI; IANAL; XYZ PDQ) unjustified. I don't know if such a judgment is still reportable on a credit report, or if it completely goes away.

One of MadPansy's less ethical brethren threatened to sue me over a 20-year-old debt. I told him to go for it, that I'd welcome the opportunity to defend myself before a judge. He backed off because I called his bluff. That was Friday afternoon. The following Monday, I paid a lawyer $150 to write a letter to make him go away. The collection agency showed up as a hard pull on my credit report once, but I haven't seen it since.

Robin
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 12-27-2008, 01:16 AM
MadPansy64 MadPansy64 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsRobyn View Post
I don't know if this is true in every state, but if a collection agency gets a judgment in, say, Illinois, it still has to perfect the judgment in Pennsylvania in order to garnish wages and so forth. So the court in Pennsylvania can tell the collection agency to bugger off if it thinks the judgment is faulty or (AIUI; IANAL; XYZ PDQ) unjustified. I don't know if such a judgment is still reportable on a credit report, or if it completely goes away.

One of MadPansy's less ethical brethren threatened to sue me over a 20-year-old debt. I told him to go for it, that I'd welcome the opportunity to defend myself before a judge. He backed off because I called his bluff. That was Friday afternoon. The following Monday, I paid a lawyer $150 to write a letter to make him go away. The collection agency showed up as a hard pull on my credit report once, but I haven't seen it since.

Robin
Uhm, damn, I really hate to admit this, but if it disappeared from your crdeit report that quickly, the agency probably was an ethical, legitimate agency. The attorney letter possibly, but not definitely, helped get the agencies ass in gear. Without an attorney, an ethical agency may have taken an extra week or two, and another phone call (for additional info) before rejecting the debt.

We (ethical agencies) are at the mercy of our clients. If the original creditor sent the debt to me as "fresh" (ie not 20 fucking years old) and with "authority" (not all creditors will allow us to sue you), I assume it was a collectable debt. Given that info, I would have reported and pursued it, including verifying attachable assets, and getting ALL available documentation from the original creditor.

When I got that documentation, and saw the dates, I would have rejected the debt, stopped all collection attempts, and probably gotten a little snarky with the client representative.

You saying it was old would have made me demand validation from my client before I went any further. Ethical agencies aren't perfect, nor are we psychic.


Yours is a beautiful example of a reasons to return my call.

Call me back, dammit!

Last edited by MadPansy64; 12-27-2008 at 01:19 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 12-27-2008, 08:05 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsRobyn View Post
I don't know if this is true in every state, but if a collection agency gets a judgment in, say, Illinois, it still has to perfect the judgment in Pennsylvania in order to garnish wages and so forth. So the court in Pennsylvania can tell the collection agency to bugger off if it thinks the judgment is faulty or (AIUI; IANAL; XYZ PDQ) unjustified.
That is correct. However, there is a move toward streamlining the process in some jurisdictions to make the ratification process more of a rubber stamp process in which the onus is on the debtor to respond, rather than an automatic re-hearing where execution is put on hold until the judge has heard both sides. For example, have a look at the Florida Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act, and the Florida Uniform Foreign Money-Judgment Recognition Act.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 12-27-2008, 08:19 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Posts: 31,600
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
If your name is at all common, the last 4 digits of your ssn will verify that you are NOT one of my debtors.

Okay, say your name is Joe Hanson. Keep in mind that I run a very small agency. For big agencies, stick another digit in these numbers!
I understand where you're coming from from a data point of view. But it's YOUR problem, not mine. I don't care if you find the deadbeat or not; I mean, I wish you well in collecting money rightfully owed you, but it's not me. "This is the wrong number" is the only answer John DiFool owes them.

Handing out part of sn SSN (or a SIN, for a Canadian like me) is foolhardy. I don't know if you have the first five digits, why should I give anyone the last four who just called me up out of the blue looking for money? I'm not a mean person and I've actually been very nice to collection agencies who accled my number accidentally, but they're not getting so much as a digit of my SIN.

And if I was the deadbeat, what would stop me from giving you some phony numbers?
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 12-27-2008, 09:03 AM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 12,310
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadPansy64 View Post
Uhm, damn, I really hate to admit this, but if it disappeared from your crdeit report that quickly, the agency probably was an ethical, legitimate agency. The attorney letter possibly, but not definitely, helped get the agencies ass in gear. Without an attorney, an ethical agency may have taken an extra week or two, and another phone call (for additional info) before rejecting the debt.

We (ethical agencies) are at the mercy of our clients. If the original creditor sent the debt to me as "fresh" (ie not 20 fucking years old) and with "authority" (not all creditors will allow us to sue you), I assume it was a collectable debt. Given that info, I would have reported and pursued it, including verifying attachable assets, and getting ALL available documentation from the original creditor.

When I got that documentation, and saw the dates, I would have rejected the debt, stopped all collection attempts, and probably gotten a little snarky with the client representative.

You saying it was old would have made me demand validation from my client before I went any further. Ethical agencies aren't perfect, nor are we psychic.


Yours is a beautiful example of a reasons to return my call.

Call me back, dammit!
The agency was far from ethical. The amount was suspiciously round, and it seemed to go up by a thousand dollars exactly or more with each call. The collector himself was abusive; he yelled at me and used threatening language loudly enough that Airman heard him from across the room; that was when I called the asshole's bluff about suing me for the debt. Oh, yeah, and no one seemed to know exactly what the original debt was for; the original rep I spoke to seemed to think it was a deficiency judgment on a car note, even though I had never had a car loan with that bank.

They also lied to me about the statute of limitations. I Googled the agency and found a number of violations of state law that required action by the Illinois attorney general. Given that they had all those violations would lead me to believe that they're afraid of debtors' lawyers. Finally, they refused to consider the possibility that the debt was uncollectable. As far as they were concerned, the information was in their hands, so they had the right to "collect" the debt. Mind, this was a debt that wasn't on my credit report at all; as far as I knew, there had been no mention of this debt for several years.

The removal of that hard pull from my credit had to have taken several months to remove. I don't check my credit on a regular basis aside from the free ones I get each year, so it could have been removed in two weeks, or it could have been removed in six months or a year.

Robin
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 12-27-2008, 09:18 AM
Jenaroph Jenaroph is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
I understand where you're coming from from a data point of view. But it's YOUR problem, not mine. I don't care if you find the deadbeat or not; I mean, I wish you well in collecting money rightfully owed you, but it's not me. "This is the wrong number" is the only answer John DiFool owes them.

Handing out part of sn SSN (or a SIN, for a Canadian like me) is foolhardy. I don't know if you have the first five digits, why should I give anyone the last four who just called me up out of the blue looking for money? I'm not a mean person and I've actually been very nice to collection agencies who accled my number accidentally, but they're not getting so much as a digit of my SIN.

And if I was the deadbeat, what would stop me from giving you some phony numbers?
And as Musicat pointed out, what if the person calling is not really a collector? It's all well and good to say giving the 4 digits will make a collector's job so much easier. It will also make a thief's job easier. I'm not giving part of my SSN to somebody who calls me out of the blue, when my only assurance that he's not trying to steal my identity is his own word.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 12-27-2008, 09:39 AM
Moirai Moirai is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post

Collections agencies are the scum of the earth, do more harm than good, and the fact this OP exists is evidence of it.
That's right, it's got nothing to do with people who owe money on legitimate debts and then decide to ignore them and skip. If I owe a debt, I will figure out a way to pay it, and communicate with the debtor while I'm doing so. It's what responsible, ethical adults do. YMMV, obviously.

And I usually don't give out personal info unless I generate the call or have verified the company, which would be no problem if I have a VM message and a few minutes with Google...
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 12-27-2008, 11:06 AM
LurkMeister LurkMeister is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Right after I moved to NC a few years ago I started getting calls regarding "an urgent business matter" for a woman whose name was in no way similar to mine. I always called back (if I hadn't actually picked up the phone) and explained that I had just gotten this phone number, and that I had no idea who this person was. Every time the person I spoke to accepted my word for it, and promised to remove my number from their contact list. This person must have had a lot of people looking for her because these calls continued, in spurts, over the next eighteen months. To the best of my recollection, none of them asked for my name or any other identifying information (which I wouldn't have provided if they had).

I did change my number when I moved this summer, and so far haven't gotten any calls for her or anyone else.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 12-27-2008, 12:25 PM
quilter quilter is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: PDX
Posts: 246
Thanks, MadPansy64. I've been getting the "if you continue to listen, you acknowledge that you're NotMyName" auto calls recently. I'll grit my teeth and follow up.

I've only had this phone number since March. It's apparent that the people who used to have it are, well, deadbeats. I've explained to three different agencies (with humans) that no, I don't know Diane or Juan Ifergit, and that I've had this number less than a year. I may have talked to one of those offices twice but, for the most part, the calls from the humans have stopped.

It took a little more effort to convince TracPhone that I am not, and have never been, their customer. (Based on their customer service, I suspect that I never will be, either!)

Heck, I'd like to get in touch with Diane and Juan -- if only to encourage them to pay their flippin' bills!

Last edited by quilter; 12-27-2008 at 12:26 PM.. Reason: "ever" and "never" are not the same word.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.