Dennis, you're asking to cover a lot of ground. Better strap in. Asset Acceptance (AACC) and Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) are both well known, large volume junk debt collectors. They traffic primarily in accounts sold off long ago and purchased for no more than maybe 15% of face value. What you've endured with the misfired skip trace calls and nearby name matching is a very common byproduct of an industry which is almost fully automated. PRA has arguably obtained more phone numbers than any competitor, overwhelming screening and blocking gadgets and likely hoping to trick you into answering just once with your guard down.

When you get grilled for your indentifying data and you're not told why, a debt collector is in fact trying to obey federal and state laws with respect to privacy. Now, trashy agencies like these can break almost all the other laws without blinking, but the privacy mandate has for years been a sore spot for easy consumer lawsuits. You have no obligation to comply with the questioning, but the live rep is not safe to continue unless the alleged debtor is known to be speaking.

You won't need to change your number or bury your phone, just abandon any hope of making verbal demands heard. Mistrust of any ''wrong number / wrong person'' claim is standard procedure at all the rogue collection agencies. A shortsighted provision of federal law gives them an excuse to consider you a liar, then keep calling until they get the answer they want. It's best to put down the phone and turn up your volume on paper.

To a ''not me'' case like yours I always recommend putting the collection agency on notice, just as you would if you were the target and the debt claim was invalid. Send 'em a ''cease-communication'' notice via USPS Certified with return card. This is the method promoted by the FTC and many consumer watchdogs, and the only way to set a legal landmine, as such a notice is ignored at their risk of a lawsuit from you. You may already be due some payback if you can prove you've endured abusive or misleading treatment in an effort to collect debt.

You can get the whole thing done in one one curt paragraph. Some variant of this will do: ''These are the affected phone numbers, I cannot help you with your problem, stop calling about this matter.'' In my ''shut-ups'' I also like to briefly review when I was called and what I was told by live reps and/or canned messages. This is done in a calm ''inside voice'' without making threats or citing rules. I also print the relevant USPS tracking number someplace near the page footer. My little parts and accessories establish the background for an escalated dispute, particularly if I encountered resistance or frustration during past calls.

Tapping your lawyer to spook PRA wasn't a bad response, but really you can control these goons without his help. Save the legal help for a real job, like if a collector stupidly ignores your written orders. Currently a simple letter in a #10 envelope will run you $5.75 in USPS fees. If the debt account gets resold and passed around, you'll have to lather-rinse-repeat the cease-comm.

This is not an expense but an investment in your sanity. I had to send three ''shaddups'' last year. Two agencies were chasing the same total stranger, and the other wanted a lady who held my phone number around a decade ago ... whom I incidentally located in about four minutes of online research. None of them were ever going to stop on their own, despite canned messages claiming I could ''ignore'' misfired calls. Like you, I heard agency reps promise me the calls would end by a date certain, yet the autodialer was pelting me again after that deadline. Well, nothing says ''I'm really not joking'' like an envelope festooned in green USPS labels. None have dared to call since and I'm sleeping better for it.

Now to my boilerplate for everyone reading here ....

Whether you are called a debtor or some collector thinks you can flush one out, you have rights and options. Most are simple to exercise if you only learn how. The FTC and the CFPB can start you on your homework. See also if your state laws grant additional or stronger rights.

official FTC guidance and staff opinions on the FDCPA, PDF copy of the Act

CFPB reiteration of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
 Aug 28th, 2012
This company is called Asset Acceptance. It apparently has 72 phone numbers that it uses to call people. I found the list on an attorney's website who fights them. Asset Acceptance called me and hung up so I called them and I did not block my caller ID. I asked them what they wanted. They wouldn't say and they would not tell me who they were calling for - but they wanted my SSN, my name, my address and my zip code. Amazing they want all that information yet they called me.
I have no old bad debt. This company deals in it so why the heck are they calling me. Well it turns out that for the prior six months, I got calls almost every day from another place with a different name - Portfolio Recovery. They were looking for someone who's last name was the same as my first name so somehow they found my phone number and started calling several times a day from all sorts of phone numbers. I bought a blocking device and started putting their numbers in it but it filled up after 200 numbers. I called Portfolio three times and once they realized I wasn't the person they were looking for - they said they would remove my phone number from their list but they never did remove it. I finally got them to remove it by having an attorney call them but I wonder if they just passed it off to this new company who will now start another harassment campaign. I wish I knew how to trick them into breaking the law so I could sue them for all the times they've woken me up and all the wear and tear on my phone system just from their hangup calls. Does anyone else feel like companies are taking way too many negative steps - harassing people just to make a profit regardless of whether they know the person they are calling is in the same household as the number they are calling over and over. If someone knows how I can stop these people - please post a comment. I honestly owe no one and never skipped out on any debt. I feel like I'm gonna have to change my phone number or just shut it off.
 Aug 28th, 2012
A bad client!
 May 11th, 2012