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 ™ is on this one?

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.

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.

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.)

What is the D-word??

Ooh, I can’t wait until my son-in-law finishes law school and joins the bar. :smiley:

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.

Those are for me, sorry.

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.

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?)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Are you my husband? :eek: 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.

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.

I had some loser [sub]deadbeat[/sub] give out my cell number to several different people, including the Wachovia credit card department. That took a few calls to straighten out.


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.

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.

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:[ul][li]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.[/ul][/li]
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.

I wish my phone had an option whereby I could call forward calls from only certain numbers.