How to Stop Debt Collectors Calling the Wrong Number

Wrong number collection calls entitle consumers to $500 - $1,500 per call under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Consumer Attorney McClelland talks wrong number calls

by Joseph P. McClelland, III, Esq.

Do you have a business calling you but looking for someone else?


You may have a solid claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act or TCPA that entitles you to $500 - $1,500 per call.

In this article you will learn:

What you should do if you are receiving debt collection calls to your cell phone meant for someone else,

Why you are getting another person's calls,

What steps you should take to stop the calls,

Why contacting the FTC is the wrong step,

Why contacting the CFPB is the wrong step,

Why contacting an Attorney General is the wrong step, and

How to collect the $500 - $1,500 per call penalty under the TCPA.

Schedule a Free Consultation


SEE WHAT YOUR CASE IS WORTH

Our fees are contingency based, so we only get paid when you get paid.


Getting Debt Collection Calls for the Wrong Person or for the Previous Owner of Your Phone Number?

Quick story.

A client of my got a new cell phone number.

One day the phone rings, and he hears, "Hey, this is Steve with ABC Debt Collector, are you Jim Smith?"

He was not Jim Smith, so he tells them "Hey, I'm not Jim Smith. Stop calling me. It's not my problem."

The debt collectors continued to call his number over and over again.

Those calls were illegal and carried a penalty of $500 -$1,500 which we negotiated as his robocall lawyer.

Why?

Because computerized phone calls or ROBOCALLS are illegal unless you gave them consent to call you.

A robodialer or an automated telephone dialing system are computers that are programmed to call numbers from a list automatically and repeatedly.


Congress knows that people hate this. They made it illegal unless the debt collectors get the person's permission or consent (and keep it).

The penalty for a business that robocalls you without your consent is between $500 to $1,500 per call. That's what happens when debt collectors are calling the wrong person.


Common Types of Debt for Calls

  • Credit cards
  • Phone debt
  • Apartment rent debt
  • Student loan debt
  • Bank debt

SEE WHAT YOUR CASE IS WORTH

Our fees are contingency based, so we only get paid when you get paid.


​​​​You DO NOT have to send them any type of cease and desist letter.

You do not need to send a cease and desist letter to stop debt collectors from calling the wrong person. This is a myth. Under the TCPA, you don't even have to tell them to stop calling if the debt was never yours in the first place.

To collect under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA, you only have to send cease and desist letter to debt collectors if it is your debt. If it's not your debt, then the calls are still generally harassment if you told them you were the wrong person. Collectors can't be deceptive in their collection process without violating collection laws. Trying to get the wrong person to pay is clearly deceptive.

You don't need to send a cease and desist letter certified mail, but if you decide to mail a letter to them, I would agree that it should be certified.


  • Collection agencies and collectors don't have the right to harass you when they are calling the wrong guy.

  • You may be owed $500 to $1,500 per call depending on if you told them to stop calling or that they were calling the wrong person.


Important Facts About Your Next Steps

1. The FTC or Federal Trade Commission is Not the Best Step to Stop Calls

The FTC does file lawsuits, but not many. More importantly to you, the FTC NEVER files individual lawsuits. You complaining to the FTC will not get you anywhere. Collectively, your input may be important in the larger picture, but you will never get individual help against collectors.

They are good people, but they aren't in the business of helping individuals.


2. Contacting the CFPB or Central Financial Protection Bureau is Not the Best Step to Stop Calls

The CFPB does file lawsuits, but not many just like the FTC. More importantly to you, the FTC NEVER files individual lawsuits. They will log your complaint and forward it to the company. Then, it's between you and the collector again.

You complaining to the CFPB is not the best step generally to stop collectors. 

They are good people, but they aren't in the business of helping individuals but rather helping groups of consumers. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or (CFPB) is not as effective as a consumer attorney when it comes to harassing calls.


3. Contacting the Attorney General is Not the Best Step to Stop Calls

The Attorney General does file lawsuits, but not for wrong number phone call cases. 

You complaining to the Attorney General is not the best step generally to stop collectors. 

They are good people, but they aren't in the business of helping individuals but rather helping groups of consumers.


4. Doing Nothing is Not the Way to Stop Calls

Because the collector likely uses a computer to call you, the calls won't stop on their own. Further, collectors buy large blocks of telephone numbers to call you from to make it difficult to block the incoming calls.

If you don't want to take any action, this may be your best approach.

I've seen collectors call for years and years.


5. The Best Step to Stop Calls is to Use a TCPA Attorney to Sue

You don't have to use my firm, but you will want to contact a consumer lawyer that practices under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

If you want to take any action, this is likely your best approach and only real approach.


Is a debt collection agency harassing you with calls looking for the wrong guy or calling the wrong person a lawsuit or class action?


So, the debt collectors can have these robo dialers, but they have to have your permission to call you with it.

Now, if a debt collector is calling the wrong number or the wrong person, there is no way that you gave them your cell phone number.

Since you never gave the debt collector permission, the collection company likely owe you money under the TCPA and you may be able to start a class action. 

You should contact my office if you have received calls for the wrong person from a business within the last 4 years or is currently happening to you. Debt Collector harassment is real and should be taken seriously to help yourself and others.


COMMON QUESTIONS 

Can a bill collection call you looking for another person?

No. If a collector is calling looking for the wrong person, they may have violated the law and owe you compensation under the TCPA. You also want to check your credit report for identity theft and dispute any accounts to each credit bureau that's reporting.

How many times to does a debt collection company need to call you before you have a case?

The collection agency only needs to call you once looking for the wrong person to have a case. The more times they called you, the more valuable your case, of course. You do not need to send the debt collection agency that's calling a cease and desist letter, although you can if you want to.

How much does it cost to hire your law firm?

We only charge a percentage of what we are able to collect on your behalf. 

How long does it take?

Each case is different, but we work to get you the fastest settlement possible with the collection agency that called. When bill collectors are calling the wrong person, it's important to force them to turn over all of their records.

What if I didn't save any voicemails from the bill collectors?

We can still help you locate who was calling looking for the wrong person in many circumstances. Debt collection companies generally keep records of all communications with consumers. We can also get your phone records and get the phone records of the collection company that's making the calls.

What's the deadline to bring a claim against debt collectors?

You have 4 years to bring a claim under the TCPA for getting unwanted and harassing phone calls when those calls are from bill collectors trying to collect a debt from another person that's no you. Because they often use robocalling computers to call you, the calls often don't stop until someone actually takes your name (or the other person's name) off of the calling list. These can be great claims individually and as part of a class action.


The statute of limitations is 4 years from the date of the first calls. As for the debt they are calling about, this not issue since the delinquent or past due debts are not yours and neither is this creditor. A debtor can't be garnished if it's not you.



Take Action:
When a debt collector calls more than once, contact us to see what your rights are. A debt collector can call some people but only with consent. and a collector of debt must obey all laws.


Collectors must also be held accountable when necessary because contacting a consumer about a debt and trying to get them to pay that debt it is a serious thing. Many people pay another's debt all of the time to stop the abuse or out of error.  


Contact an attorney if you are getting collection calls for another person.


SEE WHAT YOUR CASE IS WORTH

Our fees are contingency based, so we only get paid when you get paid.

Schedule a Free Consultation

STOP UNWANTED CELL PHONE CALLS
Spread the Word