Debt Collectors and Wrong Numbers: How to Handle a Case of Mistaken Identity

Debt collection is something that everyone has to deal with. Case in point: a debt collector once left a message on my mom’s answering machine, where I had not lived for eleven years. My credit report was squeaky clean—I checked—but apparently there is another Sam Glover out there with worse luck.

Whenever you get a message from someone about “an important business matter,” it is most likely a debt collector trying to get in touch with you. When this happens, you should return the call, but be careful. If the debt is not yours, you want to avoid further calls, not to end up in the debt collector’s Rolodex.

When you call back, use Skype, a pay phone, or caller ID blocking. The debt collector may not believe you when you tell them you are not the person they are looking for, and you do not want to give them an easy way to keep bugging you. It is a good idea to record the phone call, if you can.

The debt collector should attempt to determine whether you are the person they are looking for. They may ask if you have ever lived at a certain address or had a certain phone number. If you are not the person they are trying to contact, this should clear it up. Ask them to remove any information that is yours from their account. Do not give them any information they do not already have.

If you are the person they are trying to call, take careful notes, and record all conversations. Get the collector’s address or fax number, and follow up your phone call with a written request for verification of the debt. Once you have the evidence in front of you, you should contact a consumer rights lawyer to help you figure out how to proceed.

Featured image: “Sorry, Wrong Number 3” by Lee Carson is licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. The image has been DESCRIBE MODIFICATIONS.

  • Giggles

    CallerID blocking WILL NOT work if you call them back on a 800, 877, or 888 number. Eat the toll charges and call them from a landline phone, and hit *67 first. That will block your number from display. Skype, Yahoo Voice, and other VOIP methods are also great, IF they are not your primary number.

  • Rick Vaughn

    Just on another note if collectors are calling you (sometimes) this means your SS# is on the “real debtor’s” Credit Bureau. You did the right thing by checking your’s ASAP. Just stay on top of it you don’t want your credit dinged because of some deadbeat with the same name.

  • Anch T.

    I’ve been googling like crazy what to do about our situation. My family has been getting constant calls from a debt collection agency about a man who bares the same name as my dad, but that is all. The address, SSN, and birthdate they have differs greatly.

    This has been communicated several times over the phone (but not sure if they believe us), but nowadays it has gotten so that we try to ignore the calls as much as possible since they’re basically the equivalent of telemarketer calls.

    All they have is a name and a number so that has made us reluctant to send a dispute letter (as then they will have our address as well). I’ve been searching all over the web of what to do without disclosing private info OR switching our phone number, but it has been frustrating. We don’t care about lawsuits or anything, we just want the constant calls to stop. Apparently, they never give me enough response time to tell them to stop calling after it is confirmed that my dad is not the one they’re looking for. What to do..

    • Guest

      I am having the same problem they call me at work at least once every other week or so.  I went as far as tracking down the right person’s information and provide them with it when they call.  However, it does not stop the calls.  I work at a law office, but unfortunately we do not have any attorneys specializing in this area.  I think there are very few that do, well at least where I am from.  Hang in there!  I feel your pain!!!!

  • Sam Glover

    Hi Anch: We don’t give advice on specific cases here, but it sounds like it is time for you to call a consumer attorney.

  • Meghan

    I work for a collection agency and I work on a dialer system. Now I was wondering what can I do because I have no control of calling wrong number after wrong number, even though it has been noted in the system as a wrong number. Isn’t his a violation of the FDCPA and cant I be responsible for this if a consumer takes legal actions. I have brought this information up to my supervisor, and even other supervisors. What can I do because I have no control over calling a wrong number again?

  • Lee Williamson

    My son is continually receiving credit bureau calls on his cell phone his number apparently previously belonged to someone who has credit issues. My son is 14 and his name is not Kenneth. I have already stopped one agency but they sold the account to NARS, another agency and they call two or three times a day while he is in class. Is there anything I can do short of changing his cell phone number?

  • Sam Glover

    Please seek out a consumer lawyer in your state, who can help you understand your son’s options.

  • imadebtcollector

    I empathize with those that receive unwanted calls – I’ve gotten them too and unfortunately getting a new phone number can be a bit of a crap shoot… there’s always the risk that the number was previously owned by someone with less than stellar credit… the fastest, most efficient way to have your number removed is to return the call and explain the situation — that you’re not the guy they’re looking for. Don’t wait two weeks and ten calls to complain… I’m not going to say all “phone representatives” will be quick to respond to your plight, but most should be. Honestly, I (and most other collectors) have way too many accounts to work and don’t have the extra time to spend calling the wrong person.

  • Travis

    All the, “ask them to stop nicely” advice would be nice if it worked. But it doesn’t appear to have worked in my case. AT&T gave me a number when I moved into a new house. After eight months of playing nice, getting multiple calls a day, most automated, nicely calling back and reporting the problem (nothing matches me but the phone number), they haven’t slowed at all. And I know that the same already-nicely-informed companies continue to call (they say they will stop, and then call again shortly thereafter). And a few collectors are vulgar or threatening. I could play lawyer-games, but I think only the lawyers would win that too. Fortunately, I called AT&T and asked for a new number given this situation, and I should have a new number, at no charge, tonight.

    About five years ago, in this same city, I had a similar situation at an apartment. When SBC (since bought by AT&T) gave me a new number then, it was miraculously quiet! I didn’t even have normal telemarketers.

    I’m crossing my fingers now, hoping the new number works out better.

  • Mystic Insight

    I’ve been getting calls for Michael Grohner for at *least* 6 years. 7am, 8am, 9pm, 5 times a day, and they just do NOT let up! MCM.. lol… Fingerhut of all people. But what is really odd about this is they stop for a year, or two and then start up within a week of each other… first one call, then 3.. then 5 a day. All Unavailable. I had to start telling them I knew Michael, and could I get their name and number I’d have him call them back, or else they will not identify themselves. They immediately hang up if I don’t put Michael on the phone. This is worse than a murder investigation, these people REALLY take this seriously. People, is it really right to inconvenience a person for YEARS over $500 or so ?! I won’t tell them MY last name, it’s none of their business, but it’s not Grohner, nor was it ever. Next time I’ll try the advice above: Make sure to remind the caller that another call will be an FDCPA violation. When I did reach MCM, they were EXTREMELY rude to me, and hung up when I mentioned this, as if it’s my fault I’m not the person they are looking for ! I do have documentation of this going on for years, because I had outrageous phone bills from previous cell phone usage answering multiple calls per week thinking it was my children. Really… do they actually collect money with these tactics? If I WAS him, I think I’d just change my number ! lol… a little common sense goes a long way…

  • Stellar

    You should be very careful about recording phone calls — laws differ from state to state, but if it you somehow end up in the legal system and it wasn’t done correctly, they may be able to file countersuit for entrapment.

  • Sam Glover

    @Stellar: There is no such thing as a countersuit for entrapment. However, you are correct that recording is not legal in every state. This is why anyone seeking to record should follow my guide, which includes information on recording in all 50 states.

  • Phil Howard

    @imadebtcollector – As an IT person who has worked with telephone people, I can tell you that most outbound call centers do NOT work from a live database. Your computer screen probably has that live access. However, the auto-dialer is working from batches generated from computer processes run perhaps as long as a month ago. A week might be more likely in better run places. Most, if not all, auto-dialer system software was originally designed for telemarketing where batches always have been the norm. That’s part of why the law that established the NO-CALL list for telemarketing has such long lead times for newly added numbers to be effective. The collection business needs different software that has direct database access in some form. But that also creates a big security nightmare when any such access is automated. This all costs money and everyone is short of that right now.

  • lG

    I sympathize with everyone having this problem. I have been receiving calls and letters from debt collectors for someone with the same name as me that lives (or used to anyway) in the same city and has never seen fit to pay her bills, from student loan to cell phone and everything in between. I know more about her poor credit than she probably does. I have dealt with this on and off for at least 10 years (seems like forever) with the latest letter from a debt collector just this past weekend. A word to the wise – do not list your name in the phone book. I found out from one debt collection agency that my phonebook listing was how they ‘tagged’ me, just hoping I was the right person. I have dropped a few “another call / letter from your agency and I will contact my lawyer regarding a harrassment lawsuit” hints and several of these places finally took me out of their database. A new one crops up now and then, but not with the frequency they used to. (That said, I’ve probably jinxed myself!) Also – check your credit history with the “big 3.” I had to have several items removed that were hers, not mine, because the information wasn’t checked closely enough before it was put on my report. (One was a $10K credit card default from a store I’d never heard of.) You’d think eventually people would STOP giving her credit of any sort. In the meantime, I will keep pulling the lawyer card, contacting places when needed, and PRAY that my name is removed from these debt collectors records. BTW – I don’t normally condone being intentionally rude to anyone, but if these places keep calling, then I say – go for it. I have done it a time or two, and it seems that’s all that gets through to some of them.

  • mystic insight

    Here they are again!! Calls starting up for Michael Grohner, and Laura Grohner (or Laura Mexico). If you’re a collection agent and you have a telephone number who’s last 4 digits start with 344X…. you’re calling the WRONG person!! My last post was on this website 2/3/09, and here it is November, I’ve started receiving “absent number” and “unavailable” calls, today a message with an 800 number was left 800-947-2987 for cbcs ? collection agency. Either Michael and Laura Grohner are still out there using my phone number, or these people are calling a number which is over 10 years old, to people who have *obviously left the building* per say. They moved, they changed their number! Gone! Vamoosh! Happy Holidays everyone…

    mystic insight

  • daniel

    I am so sick of DRS Technology they call my house 2 to 3 times aday looking for everybody except me an the tooth fairy. I have warned them 5 times here they are as i speak calling my phone. Please help me sue them somebody I would split the profit 50/50.

  • Sam Glover

    Daniel, see the lawyer referral database in this comment.

    • Melanie

      I have had zero luck with any of the above. Even contacting the FTC and FCC have done very little (I had never realized how many different collections agencies there are!). The person who has the issues is continually giving out my phone number to her bill collectors, who then insist that I must know her or else she wouldn’t have given them my phone number. I have to wonder if there’s anything that can be done about that, on either the personal or the company level. The number wasn’t ever hers, she’s never lived at my address, and there isn’t anyone I know named Tina.

  • Kelly

    There are debt collectors calling my house non stop for a person who does not live there. I have told them numerous times that they have a wrong number and need to remove my number from their records. They tell me that unless I give them the number for this person they will continue to call me. I don’t have the number that they are looking for. They are verbally abusive to me and accuse me of not paying MY bills, which is absolutely insane. I have filed complaints with the BBB just to find out that other people have the same problem. Now MRS Associates started calling my cell phone. I’ve had the number for over a year and they are still looking for a person who is not me! Please help!!

    • Jessica

      Hi Kelly, I would do a few things. First find out who the original creditor was. Contact them and tell them in no uncertain terms this is YOUR phone # and not that of the debtor and to remove it from the account. If you don’t do this, the original creditor will simly farm the debt out to the next collector and voila more never ending calls.

      I have had this happen to me twice with Verizon. Verizon sent the account out to a collector and of course the phone # associated to the original account holder and not me, the new owner of the phone #, went out with the account record. The collections agency used an automated system that asked me to press #1 if I was the person they were looking for and #2 if I wasn’t. I pressed #1 and was able to collect enough information from the recording to determine what the debt was for and who the creditor was. I immediately called Verizon, asked for a supervisor and explained the situation. The debt collection company’s automated message also provided an email account. I sent an email clearly outlining the situation and stated I was not the debtor did not know them and they wer not at this # and that any further calls to my # would be in violation of the FDCRA and I would sue them. Got a nice email back stating they would remove my # from their database.

      In any event I think you have to get all your info together write a clear and succinct letter to the collections agency (return receipt) as well as the original creditor (also return receipt).

      The letter below is one I’ve used before – others who are actual lawyers can provide I’m sure better advice but this has worked well thus far.

      Re: Acct # XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

      To Whom It May Concern:

      This letter is being sent to you in response to a notice (or insert phone call date and time) sent to me on (insert date or better yet, attach a copy of their collection letter).

      Be advised that this is not a refusal to pay, but a notice sent pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809 (b) that your claim is disputed and validation is requested.

      This is NOT a request for “verification” or proof of my mailing address, but a request for VALIDATION made pursuant to the above named Title and Section. I respectfully request that your offices provide me with competent evidence that I have any legal obligation to pay you.

      Please provide me with the following:

      • What the money you say I owe is for;

      • Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;

      • Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe;

      • Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable and Identify the original creditor;

      • Prove the statute of limitations has not expired on this account

      • Show me that you are licensed to collect in my state and;

      • Provide me with your license numbers and registered agents;

      At this time, I will also inform you that if your offices have reported erroneous information to any of themajor credit bureaus, this action might constitute fraud under both federal and state laws.

      Due to this fact, if any negative mark is found on any of my credit reports by your company or the company that you represent, I will not hesitate in bringing legal action against you for the following:

      • Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act

      • Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

      • Defamation of character for contacting any other person than myself regarding this alleged debt.

      If your offices are able to provide the proper documentation as requested in the preceding, I will require at least 30 days to investigate this information and during such time, all collection activity must cease and desist.

      Also during this validation period, if any action is taken which could be considered detrimental to any of my credit reports, I will consult with my legal counsel. This includes any listing any information to a credit reporting repository that could be inaccurate or invalidated or verifying an account as accurate when in fact there is no provided proof that it is.

      If your offices fail to respond to this validation request within 30 days from the date of this certified mail letter, all references to this account must be deleted and completely removed from my credit file and a copy of such deletion request shall be sent to me immediately.

      I would also request that no telephone contact be made by your offices to my home or to my place of employment. If your offices attempt telephone communication with me, including but not limited to computer generated calls and calls or correspondence sent to or with any third parties, it will be considered harassment and I will have no choice but to file suit. All future communications with me MUST be done in writing and sent to the address noted in this letter by USPS.

      It would be advisable that you assure that your records are in order before I am forced to take legal action. This is an attempt to correct your records, any information obtained shall be used for that purpose.

      Best Regards,

      Your Name

      NEVER SIGN YOUR NAME only type it

      (WHY: because these bottom feeders will scan your signature and fraudulently attach it to documents as an attempt to validate a debt or an agreement with them.)

      Be SURE to send it certified or registered…above all, keep the receipt, attach it to a copy of the letter you sent and all their correspondence.

      If they call, write down the time, date and whom you spoke with. This is invaluable if they do this after receipt of certified letter.

  • Yankee

    I too get several calls per day addressed to the previous owner of my new cellphone (our names sound nothing alike), so I feel the pain of many above.

    I guess simply telling them ‘I’m not that guy’ is not enough from their point of view. What if that guy pretends he’s not just to get out of debt? There should be some mechanism to justly, respectfully, and securely verify this and then take action to remove the record before it’s resold.

    Two possibilities: (in general, of course devils in details)

    – require by law that collectors have to have an office in the city/region they are calling you. Then require that you can show up in person with valid state ID to demonstrate you’re not them and get the records expunged.

    – set up a 3rd party website that moderates the collection’s claims (that said NAME is associated with this NUMBER) and provides a mechanism for you to challenge/change that without risking giving your information out.

    Why would collectors go along? 1) if it’s law 2) knowing it’s the wrong record would make them look for the right record, probably increasing the returns.

    Good luck to everyone who’s experiencing this. Thanks, Sam, for the post!

  • Michael

    Moving to our new home about three years ago we set up phone service. Shortly thereafter we started getting phone calls from a collection agency looking for a Michael with a completely different last name (obviously the previous owner of this number). They kept harassing me with many calls a day, and I kept telling them they have the wrong number. Then they ask the most ignorant question of all, do you know Michael ***********?. They said, they will take the number out of their system, that was years ago and I’m still getting calls at least once a day. All this over a $125 Verizon debt from this deadbeat. I got caller id about a month ago and purchased a Panasonic DECT 6.0 talking caller id phone from Radio Shack. It blocks certain numbers that you program into it and blocks all numbers that come up “blocked caller, unknown name, out of area, unknown number, private caller” you get the picture. They called once with my new phone system and immediately got disconnected after the phone only rang once. They have not called back again. So far it’s been a month of peace and quiet (except for people I want to hear from).

    • Jessica

      Michael – please read my above post to Kelly – hope it helps as I also have gone through this with them. The only real way to take care of this is with the original creditor Verizon.

  • Melissa DP

    My husband & I have tried the “polite request” approach and it hasn’t worked with a certain company, whose initials I’ll use: AI. AI has been calling us for over a year, but each time they come up with a different wrong debtor!! Eg, first it was Sean Smith, then Sherry Smith,..then it became Susan Smith…then Sharika Smith. You get the idea. Each time we’d tell them nobody by that name lived here, it wasn’t our debt, etc. Each time we assured they’d remove our # from their database, blah blah. Finally my husband was not so nice and figured out how to contact the bigwig at AI, who issued him an apologetic letter. But then the calls for different Smiths started again. I’ve since learned AI was sued by the Minnesota AG’s office for this sort of thing. My husband is trying to locate the bigwig’s letter; we might try the Ohio AG route. Would love other ideas, tho.

  • Meg Duplooy

    My husband and I moved to a new home and got a new phone number about 4 years ago. We have since been hounded by calls for someone named Ena Sulani. We have returned every piece of mail to collectors and have let all debt collection callers know that they have the wrong number. I have kept a log of who has called, and no one seems to be calling more than once or twice. There are just SO MANY! About a year ago, a court clerk tried to give me a subpoena for this woman. I told him we didn’t know her and he had the wrong house. At 11pm that night, the sheriff showed up at our door with the subpoena. When my husband told him the story of the harrassment we’ve been having, the officer told him it was our problem to sort out. Today, a Marshal banged on my door so hard it terrified me, so of course I didn’t go to the door. He left his card in my door with a note saying he was looking for Ena Sulani. I am scared and at a total loss over what to do.

    • Kathleen

      I have been having the same problem with a new phone I got my sons (all 10 and under). They are calling persistently for an “Andreha”. Apparently she has also recently applied for a few jobs–still using the phone number. I thought that phone numbers were to be kept “out of service” for 6 months before reassigning them.

      Anyway, I tell them they have the wrong person and to remove me from their list. They just keep calling. I contacted Sprint to request a new number; however, they told me how to block the numbers from my sons’ phone. It is a pain to keep adding the numbers, but hopefully it helps.

    • Jessica

      I would file a police report for identity theft and make sure they know you are not this person. Also, I would research a firm called IDWatchDog as it is possible this person has used your address as part of her identity theft. This goes beyond what the credit bureaus can do for you with fraud alerts. Bottom line I would make an appointment with your local police department, bring in documentation and get it cleared up with them and look into either IDWatchdog or a private investigator to track this person down since she is using your information.

  • Kristin

    Meg, the same thing is happening to me for a woman named Una Gross. I think she might be dead, or something, because even her friends call her up at 1:00 a.m. Anyway, all of this started last August (2009) when my husband and I bought our first home. I had a lot of problems with recieving mail for people who used to live there. Then I got a home phone. I got Una’s previous number. Out of nowhere, I started getting massive amounts of mail at my home for her, tons of phone calls every day, and so on and so forth. I calmly spoke with these people who were calling, because I know patience is a two-way street. Most of these collectors told me it could be up to 90 days for the number to be entirely out of their system, so I went along with it. Then my husband and I got cell phones. Somehow, I started getting phone calls to my cell phone for Una Gross, and so did he. It got so bad that he shut down his line completely, because they kept calling him even when he changed his phone number. I think they bought our address or something – because they kept getting our new information when we would change it. Everyone calls for her, from American Kidney Foundation (a charity people donate to), to Citicard, to Allied Waste (trash services). My husband and I have since split up, and I lost my job. I just want the calls and harassment to stop… but I sort of need a home phone (I got rid of the cell phone because I couldn’t afford it). I pay my bills on time. Granted, I only have electric, gas, mortgage, sewer, home phone, tv, and internet… but that’s plenty for me. I wish these calls would stop for her. I do not have the money to hire a lawyer and sue these companies because I am living off my savings account right now until I can find a new job, and I’ve got two little mouths to feed. Does anyone have a suggestion?

  • Kristin

    (I am also getting subpoenas for her in the mail, and I’m having people come by my house for her. Also, something I forgot to mention – Allied Waste gave me the information that she lives on a street somewhat nearby. I know where that is, but why would they give me this information? Sounds like a breech of security to me.) I have opened the White Pages and sent a letter out to every “U. Gross” and “Una Gross” in the phone book, kindly asking that “If you are the Una Gross who used to have phone number [my number], would you kindly update your records with Allied Waste, Citicard, and a few of your friends? I am a single mother who is constantly being harassed by these companies and many more for everything from outstanding debt to AKF donations. Thank you very much.” But that did not work, either. Every time a friend of hers calls I say, “No, I’m not Una but if you ever see her, would you please tell her to update her phone number, because I’m a single mother getting constant calls for her.” Most people usually say they’re sorry and that they will tell her when they see her. So, either she’s dead and these people don’t know it, or she simply does not care. What to do?

  • Sam Glover

    Kristin, try calling a consumer lawyer in your state. Most should take a case like yours on contingency.

  • Lisa

    You do realize (people with home phones who are getting these harrasing calls) that you can actually change your phone number to an unlisted number.

    Cell phone is a little trickier.

  • Lisa

    If you have AT&T (and maybe other providers, (ask), you are allowed to change your phone number FREE OF CHARGE once a year.

  • Anna

    We moved into our house 10 years ago and still get calls for the previous owner. The calls would come and go. We finally figured out that the calls started back up when the “defaulted loan” was sold to a new company. Again, the process starts all over of us saying that “he” doesn’t live here. My question is why are we still getting calls to our home phone which obviously has our name listed. At least with caller ID, I can choose not to answer the phone. I really don’t want to change our number. How can we stop these companies from calling?

  • Barbara

    Hi, I have a variation on everyone’s post. The debt collector’s for a Mary M. are calling my landline but I’ve had this landline before I moved to the apartment I’m in. Mary M. was a previous tenant who happened to live in my exact apartment! This is bizarre and to make it MORE bizarre, apparently Mary M. posted her resume on and she is a nurse. I know this because I got one or two phone calls last year from companies interested in interviewing her! I’ve had my number for 8 years and I have been living in my current apartment for 5 years. I’m thinking that somehow these people who are looking for her stumble across her old address (currently mine), find the current matching phone number and call!!!!!

    How can I break this association?

    Not Mary M., but Barbara

    • Sam Glover

      If you get a chance to talk to the collector, tell him or her the situation. Say you refuse to pay the debt, because it is not yours, and tell them to stop contacting you. If they contact you again, call a consumer lawyer and sue.

    • J. Gaudlip

      The exact same thing happened to us when we bought our house. They obviously don’t do their homework.

  • Bill

    I, like everyone here, is so sick of the calls for people who apparently had this phone number previously, or have the same last name. I built my home so no one ever lived at this address. It doesn’t seem to matter what you tell these people, they just keep calling. I realize that Sam is a lawyer and would like the business, but why should the victims in this have to shell out money. There should be laws that protect the people form this type of insidious behavior and we shouldn’t have to pay to prove we are not the deadbeats they are looking for.

    • Sam Glover

      I don’t know any way to force debt collectors to stop calling short of a lawsuit. As for paying, as I’ve mentioned many times previously, you don’t have to pay a lawyer to fix this problem. All the consumer lawyers I know will take a case like this on contingency, since the FDCPA makes the debt collector responsible for attorney fees.

  • MRM

    Have received numerous computerized and live phone calls from various collection agencies for over 3 years now. Always asking for someone with same last name as mine but slightly different first name. Have told them I am not this person, which I am not. Nor am I in arrears with any payments. Response is consistently that my number will be removed from their call list. Harassing calls sometimes stop for several weeks but inevitably begin again. Seems my number is simply passed on to the next collection agency rather than permanently deleted. Called my phone service provider to complain but was told short of changing my number, which would not guarantee the calls would stop, there was nothing it could do. This has been extremely frustrating, and yes, I have lost my temper a few times with person I’m speaking with. If nothing else, it felt good. Hard for me to keep in mind they are “only doing their job”.

  • Mindy

    We share the same address as my brother in law and his wife. Which has been a BIG problem with the mail. But my “lovely” sister in law is giving out my number to her bill collectors. I am even getting them for her brother from back east. I want it to stop but don’t know what I can do. Help!

    • Sam Glover

      Start with the instructions in the post. Tell them they have the wrong number, take notes, and sue if they continue harassing you.

  • Angela

    I have been receiving calls/voice mails from different numbers. I searched the numbers and found out that they are all from debt collecting agencies like Allied Interstate. They all say that I am a person named ‘Sherry Pasqual’ and that I should call them back as soon as possible. I called back and told them that they had the wrong person and to remove my number from their list, but I’m still receiving these annoying calls. I’d like to add that I’m only 14 years old… and they call me during school hours. What should I do?

    • Sam Glover

      You can send a letter explaining that you are not the person they are looking for. You should also talk to a consumer attorney about possible legal solutions to the problem if that doesn’t work—or even if it does.

      This kind of behavior is common. Debt collectors don’t seem to be interested in collecting money from the right person; they are just interested in collecting money from anyone who they can harass into paying it (including, apparently, 14-year olds).

  • Bonnie

    I have had this phone number for 25 YEARS—I am getting debt collections calls at ALL hours for the PRIOR owner of the number–I am about ready to lose my mind!!!!

  • SJ

    There has to be a way to make this insanity stop!
    I sure haven’t found it yet. I bought a house that was forclosed on 7 years ago and for the whole 7 years I received calls, letters and subpoenas for the woman who had the house foreclosed on, AND her adult son. It bothered me but not to the extent of my current problem (it’s understandable, the house being a foreclosure and all.)
    I sold that house to a guy with very shaky credit – the realtors pushed the whole thing through when this deadbeat had no business getting a mortgage. Anyway, at the new house I bought last fall, we immediately started getting phone calls from bill collecters for the guy who bought our old house. How they tracked him to our new house & number is a mystery to me. (he has a totally different name than us – our only connection is that we sold our house to him.)
    This week my husband starting getting calls on his WORK cell phone from bill collecters for the guy who bought our former house! My husband’s work phone has nothing to do with our home address (it is paid for by his company in another city). So I am starting to worry how they are connecting us to this guy. Should we be worried about our credit score because of him?

  • Bonnie

    The calls keep coming and coming—-now the “bill collectors” are calling from India and other third world countries. This is insane!!!! Lord-how do you put a STOP to this!!

    • Sam Glover

      Have you tried calling a consumer lawyer in your state? There are definitely things you can do with a lawyer’s help.

      • Bonnie

        I am 71 and on SS..I can’t afford lawyers for this kind of JUNK!!! This kind of stuff could cause some folks to have a serious emotional meltdown!l

  • Matt

    This is a great article. I had a debt collector that would not stop calling even though I didn’t owe them any money. They would call during dinner, late at night, while I was at work. It was ruining my life. I found this site: and decided to look up their info. After that, I threatened to report them and they stopped instantly. Debt Collectors can really take their toll on you if you let them!

  • Kbass

    We keep getting phone calls from debt collectors looking for FIVE different people that we have NEVER met/know!!! We just moved to RI two years ago…At times they argue with me saying I am “covering” for so and so and that I am “his” wife….I have ben married to the same man for 25 yrs why would I lie??> You would not believe the names I have been called and ONE of them is from this number!! Does anyone know how to stop this???

  • EF

    My husband and I have had some similar problems. For the last two years we have had someone call our cell phone looking for a woman who is deceased. We know she recently passed because we looked her up and she has a unique name. If my husband answered the phone they just hung up on him. If I answered they asked if I was that woman. And it would be the same people that have called numerous times before and obviously knew my voice by now.

    Each time I told them they had the wrong person they swore our number would be removed even though I was apparently “lying and protecting the lady” Yeah right, that’s why they kept calling back right? Well today they called. I told them that I wasn’t the woman as soon as they asked. I asked them how they got my number if it was supposedly removed from the database at least 89 times. They couldn’t answer. Then I told them that the lady is dead because I looked it up and I asked if they wanted her cemetery address. As soon as they started to interrupt me, I cut them off and said very sternly “DON’T INTERRUPT ME” and I said, you have violated the FDCPA and I will be contacting my attorney. They were stunned silent. Then I asked to be transferred to their supervisor. They stuttered “s-s-sure”

    And I left them a message stating everything and that they will be hearing from my attorney and that I have contacted the next of kin of the deceased woman to send them her death certificate. And I did haha. I found the lady’s obituary online and found her brother and sisters. I called information and got their phone numbers and explained everything to them. BAM!

  • Elisabeth Hamblin

    I have many debt collectors calling me looking for the people who had this phone number before me. It’s been almost 2 years now that I’ve had this number. They call day and night. Have even threatened me. Is there a legal way I can stop the people they’re looking for to stop giving out my number as their own? My number still shows up on as being theirs, even tho I registered my number with them.
    Thanks for any info that might help stop this. I’ve blocked almost my limit of calls.
    Need to do something to stop this.

    • Sam Glover

      Are you sure the previous owners are still giving out your number? It can take years for numbers to work themselves out of all the various records in which they appear.

  • A.nony.mouse.

    A collector keeps calling our home for someone who does not live here.  The message goes like this: We are calling for John Doe* if you are this person please stay on the line, if you are not this person please hang up immediately, or if you want this number removed please press zero.”  So I press zero and the recording continues “you have agreed you are John Doe*, please call MST Financial Services….” number etc. given.

    Their message is extremely misleading! I have not called their number yet and not sure how I will proceed.

  • A.nony.mouse.

    A collector keeps calling our home for someone who does not live here.  The message goes like this: We are calling for John Doe* if you are this person please stay on the line, if you are not this person please hang up immediately, or if you want this number removed please press zero.”  So I press zero and the recording continues “you have agreed you are John Doe*, please call MST Financial Services….” number etc. given.

    Their message is extremely misleading! I have not called their number yet and not sure how I will proceed.

  • B-Bop

    When the debt collector calls get their business address. Send them a cease and desist letter. The calls will stop. Trust me!

  • Guest

    I am having the same problem they call me at work at least once every other week or so.  I went as far as tracking down the right person’s information and provide them with it when they call.  However, it does not stop the calls.  I work at a law office, but unfortunately we do not have any attorneys specializing in this area.  I think there are very few that do, well at least where I am from.  Hang in there!  I feel your pain!!!!