Venting--for lack of a better place

annie1971February 15, 2009

I don't know where to sound off, but this seems like a good place to start. I have neighborhood aquaintances that live on the same street. About six months ago I started receiving phone calls from people "concerned about the health of one of these people because they haven't been able to get in touch with them for several months, and would I get a message to them that they needed to talk". Unfortunately, I passed on the message and I suspect I have been put into the computer system as a viable contact to these people.

I have received phone calls requesting that I pass on phone messages, which I have refused to do; I have received phone calls that I don't answer because, via caller id, they are from people that I don't know; but subsequently they are from collection agencies seeking info on the neighborhood aquaintainces. Some of these go onto the answering machine.

Here's my anger: When is it ok for collection people to seek out neighbors to get to people that they cannot contact on their own? Don't people, whoever they are, have a right to some respect, dignity and privacy accorded to them regardless of whatever financial dilemma they're facing? Why is it ok for those people to have their financial problems spread through their neighborhood because someone has done a neighborhood search to seek out households close by?

The other day I received a phone call from a collection agency. The message went onto my answering machine. The first part of the message was that it was a message intended solely for ______ _______. And if I was not ______ ______, I was to "disconnect now". How can I disconnect now when they're leaving a message on an answering machine?!!!

This is an invasion of my peace and space and it disrupts my friendship with people that would be hugely embarrassed to know that their neighbors have become embroiled in their financial issues.

Isn't it just wrong for collection people to be targeting neighbors as go-between's?

Does anyone have suggestions as to what I should do? I guess there's no harm in fielding phone calls; but I certainly don't want some goon showing up on my doorstep because someone doesn't believe I'm not these other people; and I don't want to bring embarrassment onto these neighbors in any way. What should I do?

I guess I'm just really angry that these collection people can invade my home and peace of mind (such as it is).

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veta

I had the same thing happen - a collection agency calling to try to reach another person. I had read that if you tell them not to make further calls to your number, that they are required by law to stop. Don't know if that is true or not, but I told them not to call my number again, and I have never received another call. Worth a try.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 11:21PM
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black-thumb

I wouldn't pass on anymore messages. Why should you be in the middle. Their bills have nothing to do with you. I would have never passed on the first one.

Call these companies and tell them to stop calling you. You have nothing to do with these other people. I think I heard somewhere too that if you tell them not to call anymore they can't. Just document everything.

Good luck and sorry that happened to you.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 3:01AM
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wantoretire_did

Could it be that your neighbor gave your number as the contact number, rather than his/her own? I had that happen with a former roommate years ago; long after she moved out, she was giving my phone number as her own and I was constantly receiving calls regarding collections from various businesses. Just a thought

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 4:32AM
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kudzu9

This is a common collection agency ploy. Just quit being involved. The next time you get a recording, ignore it. If you happen to talk to one of these people, tell them you are not going to convey any messages and that you will make a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission if you receive anymore calls. Here is the law:

May a debt collector contact anyone else about your debt?

If you have an attorney, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live, what your phone number is, and where you work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may not tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.

Here is a link that might be useful: Collection

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 5:43AM
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davidandkasie

next time they call, take their number and contact info FIRST. then tell them you will not accept any more calls and to never contact you again. if they call back, repeat this, BUT once you have confirmed it is the same agency inform them they just earned a fine and then actually report them. if you can get them to give you info showing they are a colelction agency and tell you what they are wanting, you can really get them in trouble.

they use Lexis/Nexis to find debtors relatives/neighbors/friends/etc. nothing you can do but either ignore them or report them.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 12:31PM
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kec01

Next time they call, VERY PLEASANTLY get as much of their info as possible. Name of company, person calling, location and phone number. Then ask where their legal department is located. Then ask to be transferred to the legal department and, in particular, their general counsel (head lawyer). If you get transferred, still be nice and let them know that you are being harassed and that you are going to report them to your state's attorney general office. If you don't get transferred, move to my next step.

Then contact your state's attorney general and report them.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 12:44PM
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trianglejohn

I've had this happen to me about my next door neighbor. The guy standing in my driveway was dressed in a suit and tie and trying to convince me that he was an old family friend concerned about the welfare of my down-on-his-luck neighbor. I collapsed in a fit of laughter and when I came up for air he was already starting for his vehicle, he knew the jig was up. I told him he would have to come up with something better if he expected ME to help him.

Don't talk to these people. Ever. When they call you and you recognize them as a collection agency, simply put the phone down on the counter and walk away from it. Let them talk to dead air - or just hang up on them. You don't have to talk to them. You don't have to explain anything to them. They'll get the hint.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 5:29PM
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zone_8grandma

The magic words are "Put me on your do not call list".

If you know who they are and they DO call you back, you can report them.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 8:29PM
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annie1971

Thanks everybody. You've passed on supportive and helpful information. Thanks, again.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 12:51PM
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kframe19

Ford Motor Credit tried this crap with me for a deadbeat who lived on my court some years ago.

A few choice phrases such as "I am NOT your agent" and "Do not call me again" took care of the situation.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 1:00PM
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pjb999

Wow, I had not heard of this tactic. I understand these people need to recover their money and a certain amount of 'creativity' is needed but that's an awful technique.

I only returned to North America from Australia/NZ three years ago and I amazed at how much telephone spam we get- at least 3 blocked caller ids a day, and the inevitable computer pause. I only wait and listen, because I have family overseas so I want to verify it's not them.

It may even be possible the neighbours didn't give out the original poster's number, I could probably find the phone number of anybody's neighbour doing a reverse lookup if I put my mind to it.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 1:42PM
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stargazzer

you need to report the collectors calls. What they are doing is illegal. Been there, done that.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 4:19PM
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annie1971

I am as certain as anyone can be that these people did not give my phone number as a reference or as a subterfuge. I feel certain that the collectors' obtained my phone number through some kind of neighborhood search. I will report the collectors' calls in the future and, if I speak to them, will let them know.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:53PM
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