Debt Collection for the Wrong Person

Are you getting calls involving debt collection for the wrong person? Is a collection agency calling you about a debt that is not yours?

This is a common complaint we have been hearing lately. Here's what you can do if you are dealing with a debt collector for a debt you do not owe.

Step One: Find out who is calling. Ask a debt collector for the name and contact information for the collection agency. If the collector refuses to provide this information, it may breaking the law. (Go to Step Four, below.)

If the call is a "robo call," where there is no one you can talk with, try calling back to the number they leave and see whether you can identify the company calling you. Or you can try typing the number they are calling you from in a search engine to see if you can find the name of the company that way.

Tip: It's a good idea to use our Free Debt Collection Worksheet to keep track of these interactions with the collector.

Step Two: Tell the debt collector, “The debt is not mine and I do not want you to contact me again.” If they are skeptical and don't believe you, too bad. This is your right under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If they contact you again after you've asked them to stop, go to step four.

Step Three: Send a letter by certified mail asking them not to contact you again. It's a good idea to do this so you have proof that you told them not to contact you again. You'll find more details about using a cease and desist letter to stop a debt collector here. If the bill collector won't give you an address to send this letter, skip to Step Four.

It's also a good idea to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov, and your state Attorney General. If the Federal Trade Commission or your state AG sees a pattern of abuse, where a particular collection agency is repeatedly contacting consumers about a debts they do not owe, they may step in. (See the example below.) If the debt collector contacts you again after you've sent this letter, it may be breaking the law. Go to Step Four.

Step Four: Contact a consumer law attorney. If the debt collector calls you again after you have told it to stop, it may be breaking the law.

If the debt collector breaks the law, you may be entitled to damages and the collection agency will have to pay your attorney's fees so there is no cost to you. Get a free consultation with a consumer law attorney now.

Essential Step for Everyone Who is Dealing With Debt Collection For the Wrong Person

Check your credit reports to make sure this debt does not appear on your credit! You can get one free credit report each year from each of the major reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com - the official website for a truly free credit report. You can also get a free credit score at Credit.com.

If the debt collector is reporting the collection account on your credit reports, follow our instructions that describe how to dispute credit report errors.

Other Comments about Debt Not Mine.

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Federal Trade Commission Fines Collection Agency

In early 2010, a nationwide debt collector agreed to pay a civil fine of more than $1 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law by inaccurately reporting credit information and pressing consumers to pay debts they often did not owe. Credit Bureau Collection Services, and two of its officers, Larry Ebert and Brian Striker, were charged with violating the FTC Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This case is one example of why you should report instances of debt collection for the wrong person to the FTC and your state attorney general.

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Learn how debt collection laws can help you protect your rights, including when you are dealing with debt collection for the wrong person.

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