You've Got the Wrong Number

Lately, I’ve been getting messages on my cellphone voice mail from a collection agency asking for someone who is not me. Should I call them back and tell them they have the wrong number? Would they even believe me? I keep my cellphone silenced while I’m in the office during the day, so I don’t know when they call – and thus, can’t speak to them then. I just discovered the voicemail later. Any suggestions?

Block the number.

Stories abound where collectors refuse to believe they have wrong info, presumably because they expect the alleged debtors to lie. Nevertheless, it makes sense to me to try to set them straight. My first choice would be to text them; if their phone can’t receive texts then call and leave a message if possible. I’d say something like “You have a wrong number. Recheck your info and you might be able to reach whatshisname. It is not possible to reach him at this number.” After that ignore them totally.

You might look the number up on line and find out that they’re a scam, or else that they’re a legit collection agency whom you can call and explain they have the wrong number. Whenever I get calls I don’t recognize I google the number and usually find out they’re some scamsters or someone wanting to sell me carpet. Then I block them.

I agree - one message to correct them and then block them, because they will NOT believe you. About 18 months ago, I started getting collection calls on a subscription account for Reader’s Digest books that they insisted belonged to my father. I informed them that my father had passed away in 1969, a matter of public record if they cared to check, and that he had certainly not had an account with Readers Digest books within a contractually significant period of years. All this did was to hone them in on me. They variously suggested I was either concealing the perpetrator, or was the perpetrator. One even asked me if I’d had a gender re-assignment! I finally turned their numbers and agency name over to my attorney to handle.

Do they even still HAVE Readers’ Digest books???

It’s not your job to correct their database. Block the number.

If it’s the same number each time block them, or follow the advice in this FTC article.


The Straight Dope comes through again! I googled the number (would have never thought of doing that) and read dozens of reports from people saying that it is a scam. (Why do I never consider that? I am so naive sometimes.) I have now blocked them. Thanks for your help. Love the Dope!!

Interesting side note: on the iPhone there is no limit to how many numbers you can block.

I was curious because I block any number that calls me and is not an established contact.

I’ve been getting calls for the same deadbeat for six years now. I wish they would catch this fucker and jail him. The call that really tickled me was the one that went something like:

Me: hello?
Them: Is this Siskyou Regis?
Me: Sorry, there’s nobody here by that name. You have the wrong number.
Them: Are you sure?
Me: Yeah, it’s a small house and I think I’d know if someone by that name lived here.
Them: Well, do you know where he lives?
Me: Really? Are you serious? I don’t know who this person is.
Them: Well, perhaps you have his current phone number?
Me: Why and how would I have his phone number if I don’t know who he is?
Them: ummmm
Me: Please don’t call here again.

^The last time I had a landline (16 or so years back) I got a collection call for the previous tenant, and I knew where he lived. I explained to the caller that he no longer lived at this address. He asked if I knew his address and I told him I did. He asked for the address, and I offered to sell it to him. We went back and forth for a while. I kept saying I’d give it to him for twenty dollars. He was indignant.

Often, They KNOW you are not the person they are trying to get. What they are trying to do, is to either have you tell them that “Bob Smith” now has a new number or that they KNOW Bob is your neighbor, and they hope you’ll go to Bob and tell him you are getting his calls, shaming him into paying up.

Call and tell them to take your number off.

If it’s a debt collector, they will record the times they attempted to get you and then go to court and show the judge that they tried to get the person and have the judge issue something that helps them get a default, saying they can go ahead and persue a lawsuit.

How it works it like this:

Collector can’t find debtor, but has last phone number or address. Collector issues a subpoena to last address but person is not there. Then collector takes that info plus info for last phone and a judge will (if convinced, accept this as proof the debtor tried to get in contact and the judge allows a lawsuit to take place.

Of course the debtor has no idea he’s being sued and the collector will get a default judgement. Once a judgement is in place, it can be very difficult to get it vacated no matter what proof you have.

In some states judgements can be good for 25 years (they are renewed periodically).

This is a technique used by less than reputable agencies to get a knock on someone’s credit, without actually doing what they should. They often buy a debt of thousands of dollars for as little as a dime (these are sold in bundles) and for that and the cost of filing court papers, they can influence a credit report for 25 years in some jurisdictions.

Only 6?? That’s nothing. I moved into my current house and got a landline in 2000. I still get calls for Roger, who apparently didn’t settle his bill with Time Warner before disconnecting his phone 16 years ago. First the calls came from Time-Warner, then they stopped. A few years later, it was a collection agency, who accepted my explanation that they had the wrong number. Silence for about 4 years. Now the caller ID and Nomorobo are constantly blocking/hanging up on Portfolio Recovery. Sometimes when I’m bored I’ll pick up just to see if they’re still after Roger. Yep, they still are. Problem is, it’s always a robocaller. To tell them they have the wrong number,* I* have to call *them *back. Screw that.

Telling them to stop calling does no good. One bastard will write it down, forget it half the time, and never pass it on to anyone else at the same collection agency.

I tell people “This hasn’t been (name)'s number for three years now” and half the time the stupid fucker then asks “Is she home?” How would I know, she doesn’t live here.

I actually had a collections agency call me and asked me to go get my neighbor so they could talk to him. I told them no. Not the least because the neighbor and I did not get along, otherwise I would probably have been happy to have him have to talk to people trying to collect a debt from him.

We’ve been getting calls lately from debt collectors and “lawyers” for some deadbeat.

Blocked the numbers as they came, but still other collectors started in.

Pushed me to sign up for NoMoRobo. It works really well, for this and blocking the free cruise and important information about your credit card jerks.

I went through this and the fuckers are relentless.

If I blocked one number they’d call from another. If I didn’t answer they’d keep calling. If I did answer, they’d tell me they’d take my number out of the system, and yet the calls kept coming.

Finally I got a lawyer who specializes in this. All I had to do was mention the lawyer’s name and the calls stopped.

When I bought a new phone at WallyWorld and activated it, the number was previously allocated to someone named Kelly.

Who had outstanding issues all across the USA continent.
Three months of calls asking for Kelly, to which I responded: “I just got this cell phone. I don’t know a Kelly. Quit wasting my cell phone minutes.”

Eventually, they all stopped calling me. YMMV.

It really does depend. I generally simply don’t answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number, but for the times I have when a real person was on the line, it stopped the calls about 75% of the time. I was surprised. It still doesn’t make me want to answer them any more.