This blog post is in response to a question from one of our readers, who apparently lost the phone number lottery after she moved to Virginia.
The phone company assigned her a new home telephone number that once belonged to someone on multiple debt collectors’ lists. She and her family received calls from collection agencies all day, every day.
You don’t have to put up with it.
“The one company did call, and I was home to answer the phone,” our reader says. “I explained to the person that the phone number was recycled as of this summer and told her to call Cox (her cable/phone company) if she needed to verify. She was sorry about the mass callings and said she would take care of it.”
Her conversation helped end one company’s calls. Our reader still gets calls from other firms, only she’s usually not home to explain them away.
But she can still clear up her phone line.
“The first step is to put this complaint in writing to the debt collector,” says David P. Leibowitz, an attorney at Lake Law in Waukegan, Ill. Send it certified mail, too, so the collector can’t claim it was lost.
Leibowitz also suggests checking your credit reports to make sure someone else’s debt wasn’t accidentally put onto your report. (It happens — trust me. I just had my record cleared.) If you think your credit report is wrong, file a dispute with each credit agency on which the debt appears to have it struck from your record.
If you feel you’re being harassed — especially if the debt collectors start threatening you, which is illegal — you can sue under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
You can also consult a consumer advocate attorney at the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you want advice or an attorney to write a letter for you to get creditors off your back for a debt that isn’t yours.