I am being contacted by a collector looking for my former roommate, neighbor, or relative. Can I stop this?
The FDCPA says a debt collector may contact someone other than the debtor, but only to learn the location of the debtor. Usually this contact can be made only once, unless the collector has reason to believe the person has new information. If you are a relative or roommate, a debt collector who contacts you repeatedly also violates your privacy. Excessive contact may be considered a form of harassment. You should be able to stop contact by writing to the debt collector. For an example of what to say if you are the alleged debtor and want to cease calls to you or if the debt is someone else's and a collector is contacting you about it, see sample letters 4 or 6 at Attachment B, www.privacyrights.org/Letters/letters.htm#Debt.
If the collector persists in contacting you, discloses details about the other person's debt, or if the collector's actions have been abusive or threatening, you should complain to the appropriate government agency and seek legal advice. The important thing to remember is that you have the same rights as the debtor, including the right to bring an action for any of the violations described here. For further discussion, see Part 7.
A debt collector keeps leaving prerecorded messages on my cell phone looking for someone I’ve never heard of. What can I do?
This is a common occurrence and can be quite annoying. In January 2008, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), prompted by debt collectors, ruled that autodialed, prerecorded collection calls can be left on cell phones. To fall within the FCC’s ruling, the cell phone number must have been provided on a credit application. http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-232A1.txt
However, despite the limitations of the FCC’s ruling, the reality is that cell phone numbers change frequently. Frustrations are heightened by the inability often to speak to a "live" person to explain the mistake. Recorded messages often include only a toll free number without the name of a personal contact. The PRC raised these and other concerns when the FCC was considering whether or not to allow debt collectors to leave prerecorded messages on cell phones. To read the PRC’s comments to the FCC on this issue, go to www.privacyrights.org/ar/FCC-DebtCell.htm
If you find yourself on the receiving end of prerecorded collection calls to your cell phone, first attempt to stop the calls by contacting the collection agency. Written contact is always preferable to a phone call. A sample letter to stop contacts about someone else’s debt can be found as an attachment to PRC Fact Sheet 27. www.privacyrights.org/Letters/debt6.htm
If this does not work, as is often the case, complain to the FCC.
You may file a complaint with the FCC by:
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Online : www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html
Telephone : Voice (888) CALL-FCC (888) CALL-FCC , or ( 888-225-5322 888-225-5322
TTY (888) TELL-FCC (888) TELL-FCC , of ( 888-835-5322 888-835-5322
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaint Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
The FCC asks that you include the following in your complaint:
Your name, address, and daytime telephone number
The telephone number or e-mail address at which you received an unsolicited commercial message or call, or an autodialed call
As much specific information about the message as possible, including:
the date and time you received the message
the identity of the company that sent the message to you
the products or services that were promoted in the message
the sender's e-mail address and any other e-mail addresses, street addresses or telephone numbers that may be referenced in the message
a description of any contact you may have had with the entity that sent the message, including whether you have done business with that entity before receiving the message/call and any steps you may have taken to reject future messages.