How to Handle Debt Collection Calls for Former Owners of Your Telephone Number
November 26, 2012
It has happened to everyone: your phone rings continually, and at the other end is a debt collection company asking for someone you’ve never heard of. Many debt collectors use outdated information, and chances are that someone who owed money had your telephone number before you did.
So what do you do in this scenario? You tell the debt collector that he or she has the wrong number, and no one by that name lives in your home. You ask the company not to call again. And then you imagine the calls will stop.
How wrong you are.
Debt collection companies often don’t believe that they’ve got the wrong number, they simply believe that the debtor is trying to dodge their calls…and they continue to call. If the debt collector keeps calling after being told that they have the wrong number, the continued calls may constitute harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, according to N. James Turner, Orlando’s Examiner.com Consumer Finance Reporter.
These repeat calls may violate other rules, as well, says Turner. They could be in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA prohibits calls using a pre-recorded or artificial voice to deliver a message to a consumer unless there is a previous business relationship or consent for the call by the consumer. With most calls made by the debt industry to a consumer, the previous business relationship between the creditor and the consumer is sufficient to allow the debt collector to utilize a pre-recorded message. However, with wrong number collection calls, such a previous business relationship is lacking.
So what do you do if you continue to get calls from a debt collector looking for someone else? You could consider bringing a suit against the debt collector under the rules of the TCPA. For more information and resourced, visit the FCC’s (News - Alert) online complaint form here, or call the agency at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).
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Edited by Brooke Neuman