General Question

anartist's avatar

Is it worth going through the process of filing a complaint with a debt collection agency that has my number for no known reason and keeps calling me? Or is it a waste of time?

Asked by anartist (14774points) February 16th, 2012

A company called IC System has been calling me almost every day for weeks asking for someone with my last name. At first I just said no such person lived here. Then I got angry.

I think usually it was a person with the same first initial. However, this has been going on for a long time and that has not always been the case. Why my number? I have had the same phone number for well over 20 years.

I have stopped trying to reason with them, I just yell at them and hang up.

Today I looked up IC Systems on the web. It seems above-board enough [as collection agencies go, which is far below used car dealers or ambulance chasing lawyers]. They are on several better business bureaus and are a family-owned business. They even have a complaint department.

I decided to file a complaint but was advised that it would just be ignored and the calls would continue and any additional data I gave them when making the complaint would be sold to another collection agency.

There are plenty of gripes about them from those bothered by them. But some of this can be taken with a large grain of salt.


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16 Answers

tedd's avatar

The next time they call, tell them that the person they are trying to reach doesn’t live there and if they call again you will be filing charges against them with a lawyer (even if the person lived there you can legally do this).

There are rules about harassment to collect debts, and this is a violation of them. If you tell them and they continue you would have a legitimate case for a lawsuit.

anartist's avatar

@tedd thanks for the advice . . . but lawyers are expensive and this doesn’t seem a contingency sort of thing. It’d just be sabre rattling.

keobooks's avatar

When I took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace seminars, I was surprised to learn that even the most reputable credit card companies have many unsavory collections people because the turnover in that industry is insanely high. There are agents that will call over and over even when they have the wrong number because there is a chance that you will give them money to make them stop calling. It’s completely illegal, but that doesn’t stop them. Many of these agents are pain on a commission only basis, and many people don’t know their rights. The agents will bully and harass anyone they think may have even the most remote chance of giving them money.

The sabre rattling may be enough to get the calls to stop. You may even try looking to see if there is some sort of form letter available to word things in such a way that the agent will know that you know what you’re doing and they shouldn’t try getting cash from you.

anartist's avatar

@keobooks What is the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace seminar?
Interesting idea about the form letter, but I guess that would have to go to HQ and never find the agent. I did reverse phone lookup on a recent repeated number [which was caller ID’d as IC System] and even though there are different callers, all at about 9 in the morning, it is a cell phone.

tedd's avatar

@anartist The sabre rattling of threatening legal action is usually all it takes to get them to stop. But if you did take it to lawsuit levels, there are groups of lawyers who handle these cases pro-bono, and many lawyers who would take them without pay up front based on the assumption they would likely win the case and get a chunk of your judgement.

bkcunningham's avatar

How can I stop a debt collector from contacting me?
If a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once to see if you can resolve the matter – even if you don’t think you owe the debt, can’t repay it immediately, or think that the collector is contacting you by mistake. If you decide after contacting the debt collector that you don’t want the collector to contact you again, tell the collector – in writing – to stop contacting you. Here’s how to do that:

Make a copy of your letter. Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact or to let you know that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit. Sending such a letter to a debt collector you owe money to does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.

Do I have any recourse if I think a debt collector has violated the law?
You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills. The judge can require the debt collector to pay you up to $1,000, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. You also can be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees and court costs. A group of people also may sue a debt collector as part of a class action lawsuit and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector’s net worth, whichever amount is lower. Even if a debt collector violates the FDCPA in trying to collect a debt, the debt does not go away if you owe it.

Coloma's avatar

Why not just change your phone number and have it unlisted? Seems the easiest recourse to me. It may be inconvenient, temporarily, but…I dunno, I’d go for the simplest, take charge, least amount of drama option myself.

john65pennington's avatar

They are reference searching and found you as a possible person they are looking for.

I agree with Coloma, ask for another phone number from your cellphone provider.

Moegitto's avatar

Are they calling you on your home phone or cell phone? With me having one of the more common names (Taylor) I always get these “cold calls”. I just add their number to my do not answer list option on my phone. Also if you have a phone with separate numbers listing, you can actually add the creditors number to your phone book and set it where all calls from that number are ignored. I’ve done both, works magic.

Nullo's avatar

@anartist Saber-rattling is free, and legal.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with @bkcunningham because I have done it:

Type a letter. Send it to the collection agent via certified mail. It must stop, otherwise you are able to sue. There are plenty of form letters on the Net for this situation. Use one of them and keep a copy of what you send out.

Filing a complaint via a complaint dept will do absolutely nothing to stop this.

AshlynM's avatar

You should always get the first and last name of whoever is calling.

Send them a letter to stop calling you. There are free forms online you can look at to get an idea of what to use. Send this certified mail, so at least you know the agency received your letter. Once you have written them to stop contacting you, then they have no choice but to accept it. If they continue in this manner, then you have legal grounds for a lawsuit.

Don’t answer the phone whenever they call. Set a special ringer to that particular number. Have your number changed and see what happens in the next few weeks.

There are rules debt collectors must follow when contacting someone to collect a debt, regardless if it is really their debt or not.

anartist's avatar

@Coloma @john65pennington I thank you and it is probably good advice, but I am a creature of habit. Don’t like change. Have had this landline number since I moved back to Washington in 1985. Have lived in the same condo for almost that long. Same doctors, same much else.

But why would I be a person of interest?

keobooks's avatar

Financial Peace University is a 15 week financial planning seminar hosted by many churches. I didn’t agree with the politics or the religious part, but the financial advice was spot on.

He had a whole session devoted to credit collectors and it was sickening. Many of them openly admitted to pressuring people who were wrong numbers and getting money from them just to stop the harassing calls.

Moegitto's avatar

It depends how stressed you are, I can say from first hand experience that there’s a time limit to collectors pursuing a lead (your number or address can be considered a lead). They will either come up with another lead or they just dis-credit the person they are trying to reach. You have the option of reporting them, but it’s mostly a lot of work for something that you can just ask to talk to a manager or boss and explain the situation to them.

anartist's avatar

I found out some things.
!. collection agencies hire freelancers in different calling areas to work from their lists. Some are nicer than others.

2. I spoke at length with one about the problem and she told me “take me off your list” is useless, since she could take me off, but the list would be regenerated and my number would pop up again. She said the thing to tell callers is “this is a dead number” and that gets fed into the database as a waste-of-time dead end number. And it worked. The calls gradually stopped.

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