No one likes to get calls from debt collectors, because it means you’re behind on your bills. But getting calls to your new phone number all day because it used to belong to someone who didn’t pay their bills can be a total nuisance. With more and more phones in use, carriers now recycle old numbers from closed accounts after just a few months. Unfortunately, when you get your new phone number, you never know who might have had it before you, and therefore, getting stuck with a deadbeat’s number is a very real possibility.
To try to avoid this, the first thing you can do is to be upfront with your phone carrier about your concern. You can ask the phone service provider if they can try to give you as clean a number as possible, or at least one in which the prior customer paid their phone bill on time. That much the customer service representative should be able to do, especially if you explain that you’ve had this problem in the past and are hoping to avoid it this time around.
If you already have a new number and are getting a lot of wrong-number calls, specifically harassing ones from bill collectors, you can deal with it a few different ways. First, you need to stay on the line to speak to an actual person, and explain that you are not the person they want. Be firm but polite, and ask them to remove you from their call list. You can offer to email/fax over the cover page of your phone bill so they’ll have proof that you’re not just lying to duck out on payment. Unfortunately, it may take a number of requests on your part until you are actually removed from their system.
If that doesn’t work, put your request in writing. A cease and desist letter requires debt collectors to stop calling you. You can do this even if you are the person who owes money since federal law states you have the right to ask callers to stop contacting you. You can find a good template to work with here; just include a line that also mentions that you’re not even the person they are trying to reach. Your recourse at that point would be to file a complaint with your state attorney general’s office and the Federal Trade Commission.
Last resort? Call your phone carrier, explain the situation and ask to change your number again. While that usually requires a fee, most carriers will likely try to accommodate you if you explain that you’re getting harassing wrong-number phone calls.
Has this ever happened to you? What did you do to stop the debt collection calls?