Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« What Real Millionaires Do | Main | How Much is Too Much for a Church Building? »

November 21, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

This was an extremely informative post filled with very relative information. I have clients in my office every day that benefit from the information we share about collection agencies. I have a couple of tips that I'd like to add. One, record your conversations with debt collectors. And two, save all messages left on your voicemail by collectors. Should the collectors cross the line, you'll have proof. And, should you decide to sue a collection agency for violating your consumer rights, you'll need proof.

That said, it's important that you check your state laws before recording your telephone conversations.

What are my rights as someone who doesn't owe anyone any money? I have a very common name. Not everyone with my name, apparently, pays their bills on time, or at all. A couple of years ago I lived in a large (Metro pop > 5 million) city, and was barraged with constant calls from debt collectors who would use the slimiest tricks to get me to call them back. All they wanted was to get me to call them back and give them the last 4 digits of my SSN, but once they couldn't collect on the debt, they would just pass it on to the next agency who would look at the name on the account, go to the phone book, and start the whole process again. And the agencies get progressively skummier as the debt gets harder to collect.

Eventually I stopped cooperating. That is, I would admit to having the same name as the person they were after, but I would no longer give them the last four of my SSN. This infuriated them, and for many it confirmed their suspicions that I was their guy. I flat-out told them that due to my very common name, I got calls from people all the time, and instead of cooperating with their procedure and helping them out, I would refuse to cooperate "in order to make it harder for the "scroll down the list of names in the phone book method to work."

Messing with them led to more frequent calls, but once I stopped being compliant with their methods, the calls were more enjoyable to me because they were on my terms. When a particularly nasty bill collector was after "me", enhancing their frustration and wasting their time was something I looked forward to. That said, I'm not in college anymore and am glad that I've learned to avoid these creeps.

I have had debt collectors tell my roomates that I was behind on my payments to Best Buy on a $2700 debt that was not, in fact, my debt. I've been called at 9am on a Sunday only to be told that if I don't catch up on my boat payments, they'll send someone out to repo it. (That one was actually kind of funny - My response: "Don't waste any time. Send someone out today and please remove any boats you can find on my premises")

Eventually the calls have stopped because I dropped the land line and because I moved to a smaller city where there are fewer people with my name. That is, if there are only five of us around, chances are the other guys pay their bills on time, too. The debt collectors don't look for me here, and even if they did, they don't know my phone number.

So I'm curious... does someone who doesn't owe the money that the bill collectors are seeking have any rights, or is hiding from bill collectors by having an unlisted phone number my only solution?

I would add:

~ Original creditors who pretend to be third party debt collectors may, by doing so, expose themselves to the regulations regarding actual third party debt collectors. (I'm pretty certain about this but IANAL, YMMV, etc.) Be on the lookout for envelopes with third-party names that tell you to send payment to the original creditor. Sending them the standard debt-verification request usually rattles their cage pretty good ;o)

~ By all means report offenders to the FTC (and your state attorney general and any consumer protection office your state may have), but harbor no illusions that they will intervene on your behalf. Government agencies are almost always looking for patterns of abuse. You'll have to file your own lawsuit to enforce your rights (and, if you win, collect your own judgment, which is no small feat). The mere threat of a suit has historically enough to set them back on their heels, but this new breed who go so far as impersonating police officers(!) on the phone may not be as impressed.

Also, the author places a lot of faith in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. My experience has been less stellar. Creditors just "confirm" the debt, regardless, and you have no recourse.

I think the FDCPA covers most debt types except for business debts. I'm not too sure. Debts like credit cards, automobile loans, personal loans, medical expenses and mortgages are all covered under the Act.

If you have all of your debts consolidated through one of those non profit debt management companies but your debt collectors are still calling who should you talk to? Do you refer them to the consolidation company? Any suggestions?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.