Share your questions about debt collection for the wrong person

by Mary & Gerri

You can ask your question about what to do if debt collectors are contacting you about a debt that isn't yours in the comments section below.

Please be sure to read our article about debt collection for the wrong person if you haven't done so already.

We get lots of questions, and we may not be able to answer right away.

So if you need immediate help or if you think the debt collector is breaking the law (as we explained in our article), feel free to reach out to a consumer law attorney for a free consultation.

Find out how to get free or low-cost help with your debt collection problems here.

Comments for Share your questions about debt collection for the wrong person

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Mar 17, 2018
So many phone calls for someone else
by: Jennifer

Years ago ago I started receiving phone calls from debt collectors and people looking for someone with the same last name as mine. They said there were civil complaints against her and she owed a lot of people money. It turns out this woman had listed me and my sister as her daughters on some paperwork and listed our phone numbers so that the collectors, etc would call US instead of her.

Lately, my sister stopped getting calls but I still get them and they are becoming way more frequent. I have checked my credit reports and everything looks ok on that end but the phone calls will not stop. Also, when I search my name on the internet, it lists her as a relative of mine and i have never even met the woman. I don't want to have to change my phone number and i'm not sure that would even do any good at this point. what can i do?? when i was refinancing a loan and they were verifying my identity, it actually listed her as a question and asked what her relationship was to me. please help!!

Reply from

We wish we had a simple answer for you Jennifer. Unfortunately you've been linked to this person and it's likely going to be impossible to completely extricate yourelf from her. Even if you change your number, it's possible you'll get associated with her in the future through various skip tracing databases. (It's unfair, we agree!)

Your best bet is to consider getting some type of call screening so you can accept calls only from numbers you recognize. See what's available from your phone provider or consider a service like Google Voice which offers a free number and a variety of screening options.

As for the debt collectors who call, make sure you keep a record of who called when. If these calls are coming to your cell phone then repeated calls could be a violation of the TCPA, which we discuss in the article above.

Jan 24, 2018
2 medical bills for son
by: Anonymous

I received 2 collection letters for my son with my name on them. He doesn't live with me. When I looked at my credit report they put the to bills for in collections under me.

He has been making medical payments to different medical bills for months and now they come after me that's is not right. What can i do?

Reply from

Was your son an adult at the time he received the treatment? If he was an adult and you did not sign anything agreeing to be financially responsible then it doesn't sound like those collection accounts should be on your credit reports. If he was a minor at the time it may be possible you could be held responsible under state law (it varies by state).

You can dispute those items on your credit reports. Keep good records of your dispute and put it in writing (don't dispute them online.) You will find instructions for how to dispute credit report mistakes here.

In addition, please read our information about medical debt collection.

Oct 23, 2017
My ex boyfriend didn't take my name off the account
by: Anonymous

My name was on my ex boyfriends bank account (Wells Fargo) but after we broke up he told me that he took my name off.

A couple months ago he went to jail, but he had some things set on automatic bill pay (his cell phone and something else) so he racked up some debt and because he's in jail, the bank is coming after me now.

I would just pay off the debt if I could and get my name off the account, but I am currently a single mother working paycheck to paycheck, barley making ends meet.

I would go to his family, since he was living with his parents before he was arrested, but the reason he was arrested was because he tried to choke his father, so I doubt they will do anything.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Reply from

Unfortunately, relying on your boyfriend's word to take you off his account has backfired. As long as the account was a joing account you were legally responsible for debts that were racked up as a result of those withdrawals. You'll either need to take your chances by ignoring it and hoping they don't sue you or try to settle the debts. Legal aid may be able to help you understand your options as well.

Sep 19, 2017
Collections agency
by: Anonymous

I bailed my brother in law out of jail in 2016 and was send to collections. Now they want to charge me for his medical bills in 2011 and 2012 that I have nothing to do with. Can they legally do that?

Reply from

We aren't aware of any reason you'd be responsible for your brother-in-law's medical bills unless you signed something agreeing to that.

Feb 17, 2017
by: Anonymous

My phone is in my name. I live with my girlfriend for two years, a bill collector called today looking for her ex. How sis they know to call my number? Supposedly she hasn't talked to ex so he shouldn't have my number. Please help

Reply from

It's not that difficult for collectors to find phone numbers of relatives or friends. They use databases that help them track people down. But you can tell them to stop calling you and by law they must not call again.

Sep 17, 2015
My name on my husbands bills
by: Kellie

My ex husband has custody of our daughter and is the responsible party for her medical bills. I pay one third of the uncovered balance. However, he has been using my old name, his last name, as the responsible party on my daughter's bills and now it is on my credit report. This is bs. I am having to dispute claims and try to get this crap off of my reports. What can be done to prevent this?

Reply from

We're not sure how. Also keep in mind that even if he is responsible per your custody agreement, you may be still be responsible to the providers for your minor child's medical care. (In other words, the agreement is between you and your spouse but it doesn't always mean the provider can't try to collect. And in some states both parents can be held liable.) Can you discuss this with your divorce attorney?

Aug 25, 2015
Calling for same name on both my cell and landline
by: Anonymous

For several months I was getting calls on my cell for a man who I don't know, but the voicemail the debt collector left didn't allow me to tell them. Well, last week I got a voicemail on my landline machine for the same man from the same debt collector phone number. That freaked me out, so I checked my credit reports with three places, and saw nothing unusual at all. My question remains why and how could they have my two different numbers associated with this man if he hasn't done anything to steal or use my identity? Please help me understand. Thank you.

P.S. Today I was finally able to speak to someone when they called my cell. They were polite and immediately agreed to remove my cell number, but they did hang up before I could ask about the landline issue. Should I call them back to ask?

Reply from

It's possible that a skip tracing database that had your cell phone number (which perhaps used to belong to this other person before?) tied your cell phone to your landline. So I wouldn't be panicked yet. But you can always place a fraud alert on your credit reports if you're nervous.

Jul 20, 2015
Robo collection calls on answering machine
by: Anonymous

Changed phone providers-not phone # in May. Have had this # for 15 yrs. Started getting robo collection calls within a week of changing providers. One of the collection companies unidentified (1800 serv) and one company identified (Medical Data Svc). I have not returned any of the calls. I have never received any past due bills in mail nor any collection letters. Pulled my credit report after first calls started and nothing on report. I plan on continuing to check my credit. But I really am not interested in getting in a verbal boxing match on the phone about debt that I know is not mine. Do I have to call any of these people back? Will they eventually go away if they are only getting my answering machine?

Reply from

They may or may not. Sometimes these calls can go on for years. If they are robocalls they are likely illegal. Please read our page on that here:

How to stop robocalls

Jun 21, 2015
Mistaken Identity Issue!
by: Anonymous

When one's name is the same as another, and a debt collector calls, how is one to make sure that the collector does not repeatedly call on a number of their claims that one has not paid creditors? I get this problem again and again and even with identification they won't eliminate other information such as phone number, finding bogus debt after bogus debt to harass me for.

I am at point where all I want to do is to suggest to them that they devour their own excrement beyond their capacity to contain it.

Reply from

As we explained in the article, you should not have to put up with repeated calls for debts that are not yours. If they won't stop, talk to a consumer law attorney. You may be entitled to damages and the collector may have to pay your attorney's fees. Find out how to get free or low-cost help with your debt collection problems here.

Jun 19, 2015
Hospital calls
by: Anonymous

My grandson (22) apparently had been hospitalized and gave my address and phone number as his. I have been receiving calls for close to 2 months although I've told them he does not live here and have provided them with the only number I have for him and told them to stop calling me. I am undergoing cancer treatments and told them not to stop calling me. They said the only way they will stop calling me is if he tells them to stop.

Reply from

They are wrong. You should not have to put up with these calls. Get a
free consultation with a consumer law attorney. The attorney can help you at no out of pocket cost to you if they think you have a good case, and you may be entitled to damages.

If they don't think you have a good case for some reason at least file a complaint with the CFPB.

May 27, 2015
Recovery agents are calling on my office landline for my dad's debt
by: Vikas

My dad had took a PL FROM icici bank of rs.100000. In 2007 when i was only 16 years old. Now suddenly the recovery agency found my office's number and address and they are calling me to pay the debt. They are using very offensive and abusive language. What should i do to come out of this. Also am i responsible for paying my dads loan when he is still alive.

Reply from

It sounds like you live outside the US. Is that correct? Unfortunately we don't know how debt collection laws work in other countries.

Sep 11, 2014
NC medical bills from 2014, I live MD since 2011
by: Lo

I have 3 separate medical bills reporting on my credit. I have disputed them since I saw them reported but Experian will not delete, saying they have verified the debt. I moved from Charlotte, NC to Baltimore, MD 8/2011. All three debts are reporting 2012 and 2014. I worked off the books for my families business in Baltimore until 10/13. I have been working full time in management since then. I've exhausted every avenue. How do I prove I wasn't in NC? I have a MD license. I've lived at the same address since I moved I did a change of address 9/1/11 and have received no communication or letters from these people just noticed them posting on my report. Experian will not budge or help. Now these collection agency's have me stuck to post whatever they want and falsify information impacting my credit report. Please help. What can I produce to prove its not mine?

Reply from

It sounds like perhaps you are being mixed up with someone else. You can certainly talk with a consumer law attorney to find out whether you have a case for credit damage. If you do you may be entitled to damages. You can get connected with a consumer law attorney at 888-747-6242.

Aug 27, 2014
Collection on individual debts put on your spouses report then reports dwlequint payment
by: Anonymous

I have been paying off husband debit. He is mentally incompetent and I am his Fiduciary. The firm that is collecting is not easy to work with. Once started I send several hundred dollars to them at the first of the month. On second month when I paid made arrangement to make payment every month on the 1st thru 5th somewhere in that time. Paid off Judgment of over $1500 dollars in first 2 months. 6 days after 2nd payment this collector reported to Credit Agencies that this new debt was in collections and was delinquent.

It was an individual medical debt for myself but appears in the report as husbands individual debt. First I agreed to pay so much at the beginning of each month and have proof that have not missed 1 month. Now finding another report has been added and it is just dropping husbands scores and these debts are not new and are being taken care of. Believe it is malicious due to all the questions why paying off debt, was we planning on buying a home. Help

Reply from

We're sorry to hear the problems you are having. You can go one of two routes. You can try contacting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or you can consult a consumer law attorney to find out if the collection agencies are illegal. To be connected with a consumer law attorney for a free consultation, you can call 888-747-6242.

Aug 23, 2014
Wages garnished for daughter's debt
by: Anonymous

I have the same first name as my daughter but we have different last names because I am divorced and now use my maiden name. Of course, we have different social security numbers and driver's license numbers but my wages were garnished several times for traffic tickets that she owed in her name, which has caused me substantial financial difficulty.

I sent a protest letter along with proof that the debt belonged to my daughter several months ago but I still have not received a refund of my wages that were garnished. I am being told that the debt recovery department is backlogged with protest complaints and that they do not know how long it will take to process my protest and issue a refund.

In the meantime, my bills are behind, I have incurred late fees, and do not even have enough money to purchase my train ticket to get to work because of the garnishments. Please help me figure out where to turn from here because I am sinking fast!!!!

Reply from

We would encourage you to get a free consultation with a consumer law attorney. If their actions are illegal you may be entitled to damages. If you need help finding an attorney you can call 888-747-6242 to be connected to one.

Aug 15, 2014
Debt that is not mine
by: Becky

In 2012 I received a letter and bill from a collection agency stating I owed 1149.00 for a hospital bill from 12/19/2011. I immediately called and explained I was not the person they were looking for. My ssn# and last name were not even the same as were on the bill they sent. The person they were looking for was 16 years old (as stated on the bill) and I am almost 50 and the bill was for a pregnancy test at this hospital via the emergency room. I had to jump through hoops and ladders to prove i was not this person. They finally agreed that i was indeed not who they were looking for and removed this stain from my credit report.

Fast forward to late July of this year, 2014 and i get a warning that potentially negative info was placed on my credit reports. I pull my reports and lo and behold there is the same hospital bill on my credit reports once again. This time from a different collection agency. I call this new agency and explain I had already been through this with another agency. They pretty much brushed me off and gave me a number to call and complain. Last night they called and my husband answered because I was at work and they asked for me and would not speak to him on the matter.

I have already contested this debt once. How many more times am i going to have to go through this. Someone obviously sold this debt and never bothered verifying that I was not the correct person. Is it time for me to retain a lawyer?


Reply from

This is definitely not an uncommon problem and it may not be easy to resolve. We'd suggest you at least talk with a consumer law attorney for a free consultation (you can call 888-747-6242 to be connected to one). The other option is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We hope one of these routes will help you put this behind you.

Aug 14, 2014
Car loan
by: Anonymous

Reply from

The loan on the car must be paid in full or the vehicle must be returned to the lender because the car collateralized or secured the loan. In other words, the car guaranteed payment on the loan. Therefore, if there are not enough assets in your brother's estate (which is simply everything he owned at the time of his death)to pay the full amount of the loan, the lender is entitled to the car. If that happens and you want the car, you will have to contact the seller about buying it and get your own financing.

My brother passed a few mo. back. HE took a loan out on his car and did not tell me he put my name for contact. Im next of kin, do I have to pay this loan to get pink slip so I Can put car in my name and get insured?

Jul 31, 2014
Ambulance bill not mine
by: Anonymous

Reply from

It's always best to communicate with a debt collection agency in writing. That way you have a written record of what you requested and when, which could be helpful if you have to take legal action against the agency.

So, write a letter to the agency explaining that the bill is not yours and why and ask that it correct its records and not contact you about the debt again. Attach copies of any proof you may have that helps show that the debt is not yours. Make a copy of the letter for your files. Then send the letter (and copies of your proof, if any) via certified mail with a return receipt requested. The return receipt will proof that the agency received your letter. File it too.

If the debt collector continues to contact you after it's received your letter, we recommend that you talk with an attorney who helps consumers resolve their debt collection problems. If the attorney believes that you have a strong legal case, he/she will probably take your case "on contingency." In other words, you will not have to pay the lawyer any money up-front. To get a free consultation with an attorney, call toll-free, 844-244-6600.

We also recommend that you order a copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies to make sure that the debt is not showing up in your credit files. If it is, you will have to try to get the information removed. Warning: That can be a challenge sometimes!

Federal law entitles you to a free annual copy of each of your credit reports. Go here to order them, Note: This is the only truly free site.

I received a bill in my name(it's a common name) for ambulance services in Arizona and I live in Minnesota and was at work in MN that day. They have my name and DOB on the bill and sent to my address. I asked them to take my address off the file because I am not the same person, they said they would but clearly did not because I just received a second bill. I called to dispute again and they said the same thing, that they would remove my address. How can I further dispute this so that my information is actually removed and this doesn't end up in collections? I don't know if they have my SSN which really concerns me.

Jun 26, 2014
Friend's debt
by: Nataly

Reply from

You should communicate with the debt collector in writing. That way you have a clear record of what you asked the collector to do, which could be helpful down the road if the collector violates your legal rights.

In your letter, clearly state that you did not use the ambulance -- an adult visitor to your home did and that this person is now back in his/her own country. Tell the collector that you do not want to be contacted about the debt again. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you the right to not be contacted again if you may that request and a collector who continues contacting you after you tell him to stop is breaking federal law.

Make a copy of your letter and send the original via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Keep the receipt in your files.
If you must take legal action to get the communications to end or if the collector sues you for the money it claims you owe, this kind of documentation may be helpful.

Now I need to confirm that you did not sign any paperwork agreeing to be responsible for the cost of the ambulance service. If you did, then you ARE legally responsible for paying the debt if your visitor does not.


My mom's friend from another county who was visiting his friends in the States stopped by at our house for 2 days. He thought that he was having a heart attack so I had to call the ambulance. He has never paid the ambulance bill and left the country. Now, I am receiving collection letters addressed to him with my name listed as c/o. They also called me once and I told them that he left the country but they still continue sending me letters. I usually open the letters because I see my name on them. How do I stop those letters?

Apr 22, 2014
Bank account garnished for boyfriend's debt
by: Lorrie

My boyfriend went to the ATM to get some cash yesterday and his accounts were at zero. I pulled up his account online and it shows a garnishment from Consolidated Credit Services. He has no idea what it could be. he hasn't received anything. I was able to pull up his credit report for him and on one credit report it shows Consolidated doing an inquiry and it looks like the inquiry is referenced with Direct TV and Hughes net. I owe money to those 2 companies but he doesnt they are in my name only and I am not on his bank accounts. He did pay on my accounts for me occasionally using his bank information. Can they do this? With everything closed for the holiday we are unable to get info and left with no money.

Reply from

If the account was solely in his name then it probably was not permissible for them to go after his bank account for your individual debt. We recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney right away. If the collection agency broke the law he (or even you) may be entitled to damages and the collector would have to pay the legal fees.

Apr 22, 2014
Tax Warrant Debt
by: Helen

My son received a notice from my bank that they received a outstanding state tax warrant for him. I have his name on my account in case something would happen to me. He makes no deposits or withdraws from these accounts. This is strictly MY MONEY from SSI and retirement. I was not aware of a "hold" put on the account until he called after receiving the letter from the bank (I received no notice from the bank. This debt from 2002. My son divorced and re-married during this time frame and moved out of state and had no knowledge of the debt. Upon he calling the collection agency they verbally requested copies of my last three months bank statements and a letter from the bank that the accounts were only being used by me. I sent the requested info but they refuse to even talk to me since it was not my debt, and promptly took the entire debt at month end even though I'd sent them as verbally requested, and they now had my sons address, employer, SS,, etc. This is not "fair debt" collection. I have a excellent credit score and even though this did not hurt it, it's the "principle" of the debt collection. We seniors on fixed income need to be aware that this can happen if you put someone name on your accounts!

Reply from

Helen - It is risky to add someone to your account if they are experiencing financial problems. In essence, your money becomes "their" money. It is true that the type of income you are receiving is probably safe from creditors, but sometimes taxing authorities have access to funds that other creditors don't.

You may want to at least talk with a consumer law attorney for a free consultation to find out if the collection agency broke the law. If so, you may be entitled to damages and the collector would typically have to pay the attorney's fees.

I hope they are able to help!

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