Arrrgghhh, I just got another one… let me explain.
About a year and a half ago, I started getting phone calls at home for one Rochelle Brown. Seems Rochelle has been a bad girl, not paying her bills timely and so causing people at varying levels of ticked-offedness to call looking for their money. Most of these calls would come in while I wasn’t home, and I’m often away for a few days at a time, so I would come home to a collection of these messages. (And if anyone here has ever had the misfortune of being the target of such calls, you know that collection folks call a LOT.)
At first I would call back, to let people know that they weren’t actually reaching Ms. Brown. A few said, oh sorry, we’ll remove your phone number from our records and won’t call again, though I can tell from caller ID that they are in fact still calling. Most were clearly skeptical that I wasn’t actually Ms. Brown or hosting her, and treated me accordingly, i.e., like dirt. The messages come in waves, probably every time her debt is sold to another collector. And now I’m getting calls not only for her, but someone named Janice Campbell that threaten legal action.
I’ve googled my phone number - my name is the only one that comes up attached to it (as should be, since I’ve had it for 3.5 years now). With the frequency of phone calls from different sources, I can only assume that Rochelle/Janice are giving out a “fake” number (my number!) in an attempt to avoid being tracked. Thanks, ladies. So how the heck do I get the collectors/lawyers to stop calling me?
Very few people who know me will call the landline instead of my cell phone, so I never bothered to make a personalized outgoing message; it’s the canned message in male voice that came with the phone. As a woman who lives alone, I don’t really want to be too specific in my message, either. Does anyone think that changing it would actually make a difference?
And lastly, does anyone see me having a moral obligation to call back the collectors/lawyers and tell them that they aren’t reaching their intended parties?
Changing the message won’t make a difference. My husband and I have our first names on the machine, with him talking, and we still get calls for his sister who has a very different first name for either of us. We don’t often speak to them; sometimes I do but only rarely. After all, she owes us some significant money too, and I’m reluctant to let them get money from her before we do.
Here’s a link from the government about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Most of the info is aimed at the debtor rather than an innocent party but maybe you can find something applicable. The page there claims they can usually only contact a third party once. Try googling more info on the act I mentioned, or call the FTC (number at the bottom of the page).
I figured as much. After all, if they don’t believe me personally, why should they believe a machine?
I know that to be true. Trouble is a) some of the callers change over time, so I have to start from square one with each of them, and b) an amazing number of collectors disregard the law because most of the time, they can get away with it. If I actually knew Rochelle/Janice, they could collect big time in fines for the personal info that’s been left on my voicemail (a big no-no), but AFAIK there’s no legal remedy for me.
I was just wondering - hoping, really - that someone’s found a way to stop the calls short of changing their phone number.
You could scare them- keep a log of calls from each agency, then when they call, get their name. Explain politely that your lawyer needs it to take action to insure that you stop receiving harrassing phone calls from them, since you are catagorically not the person they are looking for (and have informed them of that fact X number of times).
I actually have no idea if there is legal recourse in this situation, but most likely, neither will they! The words “lawyer” and “take action” usually scare the crap out of folks.
Log all the calls on paper, and if you can keep them stored in your phone (I would go through and delete the calls from my Caller ID log that weren’t collections, and save the rest).
Note the instances where you answered, spoke to a person, and told them you were not the person they were looking for. Same goes for those times when you get a call that asks you to “press 4 if this is not the right number” or something.
Take down notes of who you called back and when, also.
Oh here’s where the good faith second hand info comes into play…my boyfriend works for lawyers and has studied a lot of law (he’s going for his law degree now). When this was happening to me, he instructed me to do the above. Once I got 4 or 5 calls logged AFTER I had told someone that “there is no person here by this name” I could contact a lawyer and we could start doing business. The business of getting the callers to have to pay you every time they call because now they are violating the Do Not Call Registry rules.
According to the FTC:
My boyfriend claims (still, I do not have cites as such) that you would probably get around $1000 per call. But a lawyer probably won’t be too interested in your case until you’ve got a good number of calls to report.
Again, please take this with a grain of salt and do some of your own research - I don’t want to be giving false info.
Anyway, in my case, I finally did get taken off the list for the Dish Network collections people. It took two calls to their office and the promise of being removed. So I never got to collect from them.
It’s either going to take persistence or a lawsuit…depends on how much time you have to deal with it.